Following the rapid spread of the Zika virus, El Salvador government have taken an extraordinary precaution methods as they urged women not to get pregnant until year 2018 so as to prevent birth defects believed to be linked to the mosquito-borne illness.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says atleast 20 countries in the region, including Barbados and Bolivia, Guadeloupe and Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Panama, have registered transmission of the virus.

Although the Zika virus has been in existence since the 1940s, it began its assault on Latin America in the past several months. With Brazil been the most affected country in the region.

After more than 5,000 suspected Zika cases were reported last year and in the first weeks of 2016, El Salvador during the week, took the most extreme stance so far, as the Deputy Health Minister, Eduardo Espinoza urged women to refrain from getting pregnant before 2018.

“The recommendation is that people plan their pregnancies, that they avoid if at all possible to have babies this year, this is the first time that we have suffered an attack of Zika virus, and the first attack is always the worst.”Espinoza said.

Zika is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes, which carry a clutch of fever-causing pathogens as they buzz in search of fresh blood. Besides the Zika virus, the mosquitoes transmit dengue, chikungunya and yellow fevers. An adult who contracts Zika might find the experience relatively mild: a slight fever, a rash, and pain in the joints and behind the eyes.