What to know about the Zika virus and birth defects

By Stephanie Wang, BloombergThe world is in a “crisis” and the number of new cases has jumped to an all-time high, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The rise has come at the cost of some important medical advances, including the development of a vaccine against Zika, which could potentially save millions of lives, the WHO said in a statement.

The world has experienced a rise in the number and severity of the new cases since February, when the first reported case in the Americas was confirmed in Puerto Rico.

But the WHO says the real trend has been a rise over the past year in cases.WHO’s director-general, Margaret Chan, said Tuesday the world is at a “high risk of new Zika cases” and said the current crisis could take years to solve.

Chan also said the virus has been found in the brains of many animals and could affect the immune system in humans.

The WHO has called on countries to boost vaccination coverage and use of microchips in pregnant women and newborns to increase vaccination rates.

WHO is also urging countries to make more efforts to improve access to vaccines, especially in countries with low populations, as well as to provide medical personnel more training in how to administer them safely.

“The world’s public health infrastructure is at risk of being undermined by the virus and this can only be reversed by urgent measures,” Chan said.

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