Fertility app to be given to 1m Brazilian women in a bid to halt Zika spread

Yellow fever mosquitos are considered the main carrier of the Zika virus Credit: Boris Roessler / DPA / PA

A fertility app is to be given free to one million Brazilian women in a bid to halt the spread of the Zika virus.

The app works by identifying a woman's ovulation cycle and fertility window by tracking her period and temperature.

The Natural Cycles app is said to be wrong only 0.05% of the time and almost as effective as the pill, its inventors claim.

One million free subscriptions - worth $25m (£17.2m) - will be offered to Brazilian women via the App Store from May 5, in the hope of temporarily postponing pregnancy until the virus is controlled.

Undated photo issued by Natural Cycles of the Natural Cycles fertility app which is said to be almost as effective as the pill at preventing pregnancy Credit: Natural Cycles/PA

Natural Cycles co-founder Dr Raoul Scherwitzl said: "Access to contraception is often limited in many of the countries hit by Zika due to moral and social reasons."

"Those do not apply to the Natural Cycles app as we do not interfere with a woman's body in any way - our app simply helps to educate women and their partner about her fertility," he added.

The Zika virus is spread by mosquito bites, and has been linked to birth defects in children who are conceived by mothers carrying the virus.

In 2015 the World Health Organisation declared a global health emergency after an increase in cases across Central and South America.