Published On: Thu, Jan 28th, 2016

NEWS Zika virus ‘spreading explosively, ’ WHO says

mosquito-rex  The Aedes aegypti mosquito thrives in tropical climates and can carry the Zika virus,   yellow fever,   dengue fever and chikungunya.

 

The Zika virus is “spreading explosively, ” the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday — calling for an emergency meeting on the outbreak on Monday.

“The level of alarm is extremely high, ” Dr. Margaret Chan told a meeting of WHO member states in Geneva.

The meeting next week will be held to determine if the outbreak qualifies as an international public health emergency.

“Last year the disease was detected in the Americas, where it is spreading explosively, ” she said.

It was “deeply concerning” that the virus has been detected in more than 20 countries in the Americas, she added.

In New York, five people have contracted the virus while traveling — two from the Big Apple and one each from Nassau, Orange and Monroe counties.

Read the full announcement:

WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

WHO statement
28 January 2016

WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

The Committee will meet on Monday 1 February in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Decisions concerning the Committee’s membership and advice will be made public on WHO’s website.

Outbreak in the Americas

In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.

Arrival of the virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a poorly understood condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established, but is strongly suspected.

WHO action

WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO) has been working closely with affected countries since May 2015. PAHO has mobilized staff and members of the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) to assist ministries of health in strengthening their abilities to detect the arrival and circulation of Zika virus through laboratory testing and rapid reporting. The aim has been to ensure accurate clinical diagnosis and treatment for patients, to track the spread of the virus and the mosquito that carries it, and to promote prevention, especially through mosquito control.

The Organization is supporting the scaling up and strengthening of surveillance systems in countries that have reported cases of Zika and of microcephaly and other neurological conditions that may be associated with the virus. Surveillance is also being heightened in countries to which the virus may spread. In the coming weeks, the Organization will convene experts to address critical gaps in scientific knowledge about the virus and its potential effects on fetuses, children and adults.

WHO will also prioritize the development of vaccines and new tools to control mosquito populations, as well as improving diagnostic tests.

 

READ MORE: ZIKA VIRUS

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A little-known virus spread by mosquitoes is causing one of the most alarming health crises to hit Brazil in decades, officials here warn: Thousands of cases of brain damage, in which babies are born with More…

 

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The rare and incurable microcephaly condition, in which causes babies to be born with shrunken heads and small brains and skulls, has seen a surge in Brazil in the last year, and now appears to be spreading More…

 

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