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More than 3,000 pregnant Colombian women have zika

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmit the virus Credit: PA

More than 3,100 pregnant Colombian women are infected with the Zika virus, the country's president said.

The mosquito-borne disease is continuing its rapid spread across the Americas.

President Juan Manuel Santos also projected there could be up to 600,000 infections in 2016.

The virus has been linked to the microcephaly in babies, which prevents fetus' brains from developing properly.

There is no vaccine or treatment.

There are so far no recorded cases of Zika-linked microcephaly in Colombia, Santos said.

There are 25,645 people infected with the disease in Colombia, Santos said during a TV broadcast with health officials, among them 3,177 pregnant women.

Warnings that Zika could be transmitted human-to-human

Until a few days ago, scientists were confident that the Zika virus could only be spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

But now Zika, and the threat of birth defects it carries, can almost certainly be sexually transmitted and there have been two confirmed cases of the virus spread by infected blood.

Traces of the active virus have also been found in the saliva and urine of two infected patients.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

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Three Zika patients die in Colombia from nerve disorder

Three people have died in Colombia after contracting the Zika virus and developing a rare nerve disorder, AFP reports citing an official.

Martha Lucia Ospina, head of the National Health Institute, said that the deaths were preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nervous system.

"We have confirmed and attributed three deaths to Zika," she said. "In this case, the three deaths were preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome."

Puerto Rico declares public health emergency due to Zika

A health worker prepares insecticide before fumigating a neighborhood in San Juan. Credit: Reuters

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padill declared a public health emergency after 22 cases of Zika have been confirmed on the Caribbean island.

Among the confirmed Zika cases are a pregnant woman and a man who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves.

Puerto Rico reported its first case of the mosquito-borne virus in December.

Fresh health fears as Zika found in saliva and urine

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmit the virus. Credit: Reuters

Traces of the Zika have been found in the saliva and urine of two infected patients, raising fresh fears about how the virus can be transmitted.

According to scientists at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a public health institute in Brazil, genetic testing identified the presence of the virus in fluid samples from two patients who were suffering from the mosquito-borne viral infection.

It is the first time that the "active" virus has been detected in saliva and urine.

Scientist Myrna Bonaldo said: "That fact that the virus was found with the capacity to cause infection is not proof that it can contaminate other people through those fluids."

WHO: $25m needed to fight Zika virus

The World Health Organization will be seeking $25m to help fund a programme to fight the Zika virus, according to a senior official.

New tests will be carried out to try and establish how the virus spreads Credit: REUTERS/Rodrigo Paiva

The official told Reuters that millions would need to be spent on a six-month programme, including studies on whether it is spread by sex or by blood transfusion, to fight the virus which is linked to birth defects.

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