Colombia's health ministry said on Thursday it had confirmed two cases of the rare birth defect microcephaly are connected to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, after the disease was linked to more than a thousand confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

According to the World Health Organization, there is a strong scientific consensus that Zika can cause microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis, though conclusive proof may take months or years.

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U.S. health officials said on Wednesday that infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy causes microcephaly, a finding experts hope will refocus attention on prevention efforts.