The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the strain of Zika virus responsible for the outbreaks in South American country, Brazil, has been detected in Africa for the first time.
The WHO expressed concerned that the latest strain was spreading and was “on the doorstep of Africa”.
BBC gathered that Zika virus is currently circulating in Cape Verde, an archipelago off the north west coast of Africa.
Speaking on the outbreak on Friday, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that there have been more than 7,000 suspected cases of Zika in Cape Verde, with 180 pregnant women thought to have been infected.
Dr Moeti also pleaded with leaders of African countries to raise awareness among pregnant women of the complications with the Zika virus and encourage people to protect themselves against mosquito bites and sexual transmission.
She said: “This information will help African countries to re-evaluate their level of risk and adapt and increase their levels of preparedness.”
Also speaking, a researcher of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, University College London Hospitals in UK, Dr Anna Checkley, said the Zika virus has been circulating at a low level in African countries for more than 50 years, so some of the population may already be immune.
The Doctor said: “It is likely that the South American, Caribbean and Polynesian populations had no prior immunity to the virus, so a high proportion of people who are bitten by infected mosquitos caught the disease.”
There have been around 1,300 confirmed cases of microcephaly – babies born with small brains – in Brazil, with thousands more under investigation.