Zika Outbreak is a ‘Global Public Health Emergency’ says World Health Organization

Zika Outbreak is a ‘Global Public Health Emergency’ says World Health Organization

The Zika virus has people around the world terrified, as news reports of babies born with birth defects flood televisions. Now, the World Health Organization is calling the outbreak >a href=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3425846/World-Health-Organization-deeply-concerned-explosive-spread-Zika-virus-El-Nino-increases-fears-expansion.html>a global public health emergency.

Brazil Zika Birth Defects

The World Health Organisation said the outbreak should be considered a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, putting the mosquito-borne disease in the same category as ebola, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

Experts were called in to assess the Zika outbreak after noting a link between its arrival in Brazil last year and a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads.

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WHO officials have predicted that as many as four million people could be infected with the virus this year.

The alert was recommended by a committee of independent experts to the United Nations agency, following criticism of a hesitant response so far.

The move should help fast-track international action and research priorities.

The committee advised that the association between the virus and microcephaly – a condition where the child has an underdeveloped brain – constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’. Calling the spread an ‘extraordinary event’, she said the ‘level of alarm is extremely high’.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said the causal relationship between infection during pregnancy and microcephaly in babies is ‘strongly suspected’ but not yet scientifically proven.

Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to infected areas.

… Dr Chan called for a coordinated international response to investigate and understand the relationship between the virus and the condition.

Patterns of spread of the virus, the lack of vaccines and reliable diagnostic tests are also cause for concern, Dr Chan added.

‘After a review of the evidence the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world,’ she said.

‘In their view a coordinated international response is needed to minimise the threat in effected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread.

‘Members of the committee agree that the situation meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern.’

The UN health agency warned last week that the mosquito-borne disease was ‘spreading explosively’ in the Americas.

Making the announcement, Dr Chan said she had accepted the advice.

‘I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a public health emergency of international concern,’ she said.

It’s certainly understandable that this virus is causing panic and fear. Comparing it to ebola, though, which has killed tens of thousands of people in one outbreak alone, may be getting a little ridiculous.

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