WHO declares Zika virus outbreak as International Emergency

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The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus outbreak an international public health emergency. The announcement came after WHO’s emergency meeting  headed by its Director-General Margaret Chan in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was convened to assess the outbreak of the virus which is linked to birth defects in the Americas (South and North America).

Deceleration of international emergency has a broader meaning  as it means that there is  underscoring seriousness of outbreak, and it demands  coordinated global response and greater attention to curb the deadly outbreak. According to WHO around four million people may be infected with Zika virus in the Americas (South and North America).

WHO has declared an international public health emergency for the fourth time. Earlier, it had declared two emergencies in 2014 for the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa and a resurgence of polio in Syria and other countries. In 2009, the first emergency was declared after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

What is Zika virus ?

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus  transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes. It is the  is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus. It should be noted that even other vector-borne diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever are also transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where it was first  identified in 1947. In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island and in 2015, to South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is now considered a pandemic.

WHO declares Zika virus outbreak as International Emergency

As per the medical reports by experts, the first case was confirmed in Texas, USA in January 2016 in a traveller returning from Latin America. It should be noted that Zika fever is not fatal as it lasts only up to a week but  health officials in the US have been alarmed about a possible link between the virus and a birth defect called microcephaly that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and potential developmental problems.

Transmission : Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main factor  for the transmission of  Zika virus because it  bites someone infected with the virus and than transmit it by biting another human. However there have been also reports suggesting the sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

Common symptoms :The common symptoms of zika fever are  Headache, muscle and joint pain, mild fever, rash, pinkeye and inflammation of the underside of the eyelid but in case of  microcephaly it can cause neurological disorders and foetal deformation in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads that can cause brain damage

Prevention and cure : There is no drug or vaccine for zika virus and the affected person can be cured only through bed rest however the best form of prevention against the disease is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

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