The World Health Organization is advising millions of residents of areas where the Zika virus is spreading, as well as visitors to those areas, to consider delaying pregnancy due to birth defects tied to the disease.
Since 2007, Zika has been detected in 60 countries and territories, WHO said. The disease is usually transmitted through mosquitoes, but there is evidence it can also be transmitted via sex and it is not known how long it can be present in semen, which is why WHO says men and women of reproductive age living in affected areas should "be correctly informed and oriented to consider delaying pregnancy," The Guardian reports.
Zika has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, as well as other severe brain defects. WHO made its recommendation because there is no known treatment to keep pregnant women with Zika from transmitting the disease to their unborn babies. The organization is also urging those visiting regions plagued by Zika to consider abstinence for at least eight weeks following their return home.