TIME public health

El Salvador Asks People Not to Have Children for Two Years Due to Zika Virus

There have been 5,000 cases of the virus in the country

El Salvador has asked women not to get pregnant until 2018, a measure that demonstrates the severity of the Zika virus epidemic in the country, according to news reports.

The mosquito-borne virus has been lined to brain damage in infants, the New York Times reported.

The virus has affected Latin America and the Caribbean, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the virus will likely reach nearly all of North and South America.

Mario Tama—Getty ImagesMylene Helena Ferreira holds her son David Henrique Ferreira, who has microcephaly, on Jan. 25, 2016 in Recife, Brazil.

El Salvador has seen at least 5,000 cases of Zika, according to the paper. In Brazil, a million people have been infected and almost 4,000 children have been born with microcephaly, a condition that gives babies small heads and incomplete brain development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women to avoid travel to places affected by the virus.

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