Between 2015 and 2016, the Zika epidemic has extended to include much of Latin America and the Caribbean. To date, Brazil has recorded the highest number of Zika cases, followed by Colombia. The countries shown below in green have reported cases of the Zika virus.

Zika: Countries affected

Latin America and the Caribbean

If you live in Latin America or the Caribbean and would like to know more about the Zika virus in your home country, we recommend visiting the website of your country’s Ministry of Health and/or the websites of community and social service organizations focused on these issues. In the following chart, you will find general information, including general statistics, reports of Zika in pregnant people and microcephaly cases, government preventative measures, and information on abortion access in select countries within the region (data as of March 31st, 2016- sources: WHO, Center for Reproductive Rights)

Country Zika statistics Increase in microcephaly cases reported from 2015-2016 Cases reported in pregnant people Government response Abortion access
Brasil Cases confirmed-laboratory: 534
Probable cases: 72,062
Yes, over 4,000 cases have been reported Yes
  • This year, the Ministry of Health published an informational booklet with information on how to prevent the virus, precautions to take if you’ve been infected, and resources for the general public as well as pregnant people, newborns, and newborns born with microcephaly.
  • The Ministry of Health’s website includes information on how to prevent infection and how to eliminate the mosquito’s breeding areas.
  • If you are located within Brazil, more information can also be obtained by dialing 136.
  • As part of its prevention program, the Brazilian government has announced that it plans to distribute insect repellent to all pregnant people enrolled in the government program “Bolsa Família”.1
Restrictive—Only available to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape.
Colombia Confirmed cases- laboratory: 2,361
Probable cases: 56,477
Yes, more than 50 suspected cases between January and March of 2016 Yes, more than 10,000 women suspected or confirmed to be infected with the virus.
  • As part of its prevention campaign, the Colombian government has urged women of childbearing age that live in areas up to 2,200 meters above sea level to postpone becoming pregnant to the extent possible (although recognizing that ultimately reproductive decisions should always be made by the woman or couple).
  • The government has also published recommendations for the public and private health systems on how to care for Zika infection cases, particularly in pregnant women.2
  • Also as part of its prevention campaign, the government has created the “national anti-mosquito hotline” where people can receive information on the virus and how to prevent it. If you are located in Colombia you can reach this free hotline by dialing 018000910097.
  • The website of the Ministry of Health also features information on the virus, multimedia resources (including a Sesame Street video that explains how to avoid mosquito bites to young children), and links to related information.
Abortion is permitted if there is danger to the life or health of the mother, in cases of severe fetal malformation, or in cases of rape
El Salvador Cases confirmed-laboratory: 3
Probable cases: 9,597
No information available Yes
  • The government has taken preventative measures such as sending fumigation equipment to affected areas and purifying water pipe networks.
  • Despite little access to sexual education and limited access to contraceptives, the government has recommended that all women of childbearing age postpone becoming pregnant until 2018.3
Restrictive –abortion is not available under any circumstances
Honduras Cases confirmed-laboratory: 2
Probable cases: 16,536
No information available Yes, 68 women
  • The government has taken preventative measures such as sending fumigation equipment to affected areas and preparing health workers.
  • A national state of emergency was declared in February of 2016.
Restrictive –There are no explicit exceptions
Venezuela Cases confirmed-laboratory: 352
Probable cases: 15,495
No information available No information available
  • Use of fumigation campaigns.
  • Concerns and vulnerability in the face of a scarcity of medication.
Restrictive –only to save the life of the mother
Dominican Republic Cases confirmed-laboratory: 18
Probable cases: 991
No information available Yes
  • Use of fumigation campaigns.
Restrictive –There are no explicit exceptions
Haití Cases confirmed-laboratory: 5
Probable cases: 1,777
No information available No information available
  • Use of fumigation campaigns.
Restrictive –There are no explicit exceptions

1http://combateaedes.saude.gov.br/tira-duvidas#mitos-e-verdades
2https://www.minsalud.gov.co/Paginas/Continua-la-vigilancia-sobre-virus-del-Zika-en-Colombia.aspx
3http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/universal/es/zika-virus-en-el-salvador-medidas-de-emergencia.html?_r=0

Zika in the rest of the world:

  • 1947: First recorded cases of the virus in Uganda.
  • 1952: Blood analysis confirms the presence of the infection in humans in Uganda and Tanzania.
  • 1968: The virus was successfully isolated using samples taken from infected people in Nigeria.
  • 2007: Outbreak in Micronesia.
  • 2013: Outbreak in French Polynesia.
  • 2014: Outbreaks on Easter Island, New Caledonia, and the Cook Islands.