Everything you need to know about Brazil’s deadly Zika virus

Here’s how the outbreak could affect you.

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Complex Original

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Nearly everyone with access to TV, newspapers, or the Internet has seen the word "Zika" in the news this week. And just as many have probably wondered what it is and what it means for them.

World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan said in a briefing Thursday that the virus was "spreading explosively." One WHO scientist predicted that 3 to 4 million infections would occur in the Americas in the next year.

If you haven't been paying attention to the outbreak, now is the time to start. 

Here are some basic facts about Zika, how it could affect you, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.

What does this virus do?

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#Zika: 60-80% of infected people do not show any symptoms. The remainder can develop a mild fever, rashes, muscle pain and headaches.

— IFRC (@ifrc) January 28, 2016

Zika causes carriers' children to be born with microcephaly, or small heads with abnormal brain development. 

However, the virus also causes symptoms in adults, including headache, fever, and conjunctivitis. 

While government officials have advised against getting pregnant while potentially carrying the virus, it's otherwise not serious. Adults don't typically experience symptoms, and when they do, they can be treated like an average fever. 

Where is this outbreak happening?

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Can I get Zika?

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Dr Marcos Espinal @pahowho: #ZikaVirus will go everywhere the mosquito is. We should assume that. We should not wait for it to spread

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 28, 2016

If you live in one of the countries where Zika is spreading, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed here, you could get the disease through mosquito bites.

Though two cases of sexually transmitted Zika have reportedly been documented, the WHO said there's not enough information to draw a definite conclusion.

So far, the only known source is mosquitoes. 

How can I avoid it?

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