World Health Organization declares global emergency over Zika virus

2016_0129_zika-mosquito
Aedes aegypti—a mosquito vector of Zika virus. Credit: Wikipedia / Rafaelgilo.

World Health Organization declares global emergency over Zika virus and considers the outbreak in the Americas constitutes public health emergency.

The UN health agency declared on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, a global public health emergency over the Zika virus chiefly affecting Brazil and other countries in the region, the first such warning since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

The declaration came as the World Health Organization convened a meeting of experts on the virus and its potential link to Brazil’s rising number of babies born with abnormally small heads, a symptom known as microcephaly, cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neurological disorders.

There are currently no vaccines or specific treatments for the virus transmitted by mosquitoes. It causes headaches, a mild fever and joint aches after an incubation period of three to 12 days.

“The casual relations between the Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephly is strongly suspected, though not scientifically proven,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the “extraordinarily event” at a press conference.

Chen said the broad geographical distribution of mosquito spices, lack of vaccines, rapid and reliable diagnoses tests, as well as absence of population immunity in newly affected countries are further causes for concerns.

She called for a coordinated international response to minimize the threats in affected countries and reduce the risk of further spread. (Kyodo / Xinhua)

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