The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America a global emergency. This puts Zika virus in the same category as Ebola. Zika is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and more than 20 countries in the Americas are reporting cases. Most cases are mild or asymptomatic, however, in rare cases a paralysis disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome can occur. The most significant health risk is to pregnant women. There have been around 4,000 cases of microcephaly (babies born with small brains) in Brazil alone since October 2015, likely as a result of the Zika virus.
A vaccine for Zika virus is already in production and could be ready for emergency use by October or November 2016. A team at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is working on the vaccine in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and GeneOne Life Science Inc. from South Korea.