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MIAMI (CBSMiami) —  World Health officials reconvened for an Emergency Committee meeting on the Zika virus Tuesday.

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The committee covered the latest increase in neurological disorders and fetal malformations like microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) possibly linked to the spread of the virus.

“Evidence shows it can cross the placental barrier and infect the fetus,”said WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan. “We can now conclude that Zika virus is neurotropic, preferentially affecting tissues in the brain and brain stem of the developing fetus.”

Chan said substantial evidence continues to strengthen the suspected link between Zika and microcephaly but it’s not the only abnormality with a possible link to the virus.

“Microcephaly is now only one of several documented birth abnormalities associated with Zika infection during pregnancy. Grave outcomes include fetal death, placental insufficiency, fetal growth retardation, and injury to the central nervous system,” said Chan.

Meantime, nine countries are have reported an increase in GBS. That’s out of the 31 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean who have reported cases where the virus was locally acquired.

Chan confirmed that they do know it’s primarily spread by mosquitoes but now more sexually transmitted cases are being reported – saying it’s “more common than previously assumed.”

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As for the future of the virus, Chan said  they expect Zika to hit unaffected countries – some due to the rainy season from January to May.

“We can expect to see more cases and geographical spread,” said Chan. “Imported cases of Zika have been reported from every region in the world.”

The meeting comes more than a month after their first emergency  meeting when they declared the virus a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC).

As for a definitive answer on a confirmed link between the virus and fetal malformations or neurological disorders, they said experts spoke about it Tuesday.

“They couldn’t give really any specific criteria. They they did says there needed to be consistency in different studies over time,” said Dr. David L. Heymann with WHO.

The organization has since issued guidelines for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid countries affected by the virus.

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