Zika ‘spreading explosively’, up to four million cases expected: WHO (Source France 24) HYPERLINK “http://www.france24.com/en/tag/who/” \t “_blank” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the HYPERLINK “http://www.france24.com/en/tag/zika-virus/” \t “_blank” spread of the mosquito-borne disease spreading through the Americas had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions. Chan said the virus – which has been linked to birth defects and neurological problems – was “spreading explosively.” Chan told HYPERLINK “http://www.who.int/en/” \t “_blank” WHO executive board members at a special meeting in Geneva. “As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the (Americas) region.” The organisation’s will HYPERLINK “http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika/en/” \t “_blank” convene an emergency committee on Monday to help determine the level of the international response to the virus spreading from HYPERLINK “http://www.france24.com/en/tag/brazil/” \t “_blank” Brazil and to decide whether it should be declared an international health emergency. Declaring a global emergency is akin to an international SOS signal and usually brings more money and action to address an outbreak. The last such emergency was announced over the 2014 devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa; polio was declared a similar emergency the year before. Marcos Espinal, an infectious disease expert at the WHO’s Americas regional office, said on Thursday, “We can expect 3 to 4 million cases of Zika virus disease”. However, he did not give a time frame. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.