The mosquito-borne Zika virus usually causes a mild illness but is now suspected in an unusual birth defect and possibly other health issues.
The World Health Organization says Zika is rapidly spreading in the Americas because it is new to the region, people aren't immune to it, and the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries it is just about everywhere including along the southern United States.
[...] those that do usually develop mild symptoms fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes which usually last no more than a week.
In Brazil, there's been mounting evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women to a rare birth defect called microcephaly, in which a newborn's head is smaller than normal and the brain may not have developed properly.
[...] doctors have noted increased reports of a nerve condition called Guillain-Barre (gee-YAHN'-buh-RAY) that can cause paralysis.
Individuals can protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents, and wearing long sleeves and long pants especially during daylight, when the mosquitoes tend to be most active, health officials say.
U.S. health officials recommend that pregnant women should consider postponing trips to 22 destinations.
In Brazil, most of the mothers who had babies with microcephaly were apparently infected during the first trimester, but there is some evidence the birth defect can occur later in the pregnancy, CDC officials say.