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WHO declares Zika Virus as a global emergency

WHO declares Zika Virus as a global emergency

  • World Health Organization has declared Zika virus as a global public health emergency requiring a united response.
  • The virus is spreading far and fast with devastating consequences. The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains
  • The WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola.It means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.
  • There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October.
  • Margaret Chan, WHO Director declares an international public health emergency
  • The WHO faced heavy criticism for waiting too long to declare the Ebola outbreak a public emergency.
  • Zika virus:
    • Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti.
    • In humans, the virus causes a mild illness known as Zika fever, Zika, or Zika disease, which since the 1950s has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia.
    • The virus was first isolated in April 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey that had been placed in a cage in the Zika Forest of Uganda, near Lake Victoria, by the scientists of the Yellow Fever Research Institute.
    • A second isolation from the mosquito A. Africanus followed at the same site in January 1948
    • In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, where the Zika outbreak has reached pandemic levels.
  • Symptoms
    • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
    • The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known but is likely to be a few days to a week.
    • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
    • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.
    • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare.
    • The most infections are mild and cause few or no symptoms, although there have been some reported cases of a rare paralysis disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Prevention or Treatment
    • Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika. The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection.
    • The priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.
    • The pregnant women are advised to consider delaying travel to areas affected by Zika seek advice from their physician if they are living in areas affected by Zika, as well as protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing repellent
    • The WHO has already warned that Zika is likely to "spread explosively" across nearly all of the Americas. More than 20 countries including Brazil are reporting cases.

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