- Today, the Zika virus was declared a global health emergency
- A condition associated with the Zika virus poses a global public health emergency
- The infection has been connected to cases of microcephaly
- This is the first time the WHO has declared health emergency over a mosquito-borne disease
A “public health emergency of international concern” was declared over the Zika virus and associated health problems by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.
A condition related to the Zika virus poses a global public health emergency requiring a collective response, says the WHO.
The infection has been connected to cases of microcephaly, in which children are born with small brains.
The emergency declaration puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola. The health agency will improve research to eradicate the virus.
Brazil alone has recorded around 4,000 cases of microcephaly since October.
Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, called Zika an “extraordinary event” that required a coordinated response.
“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,” Dr. Chan Said.
Usually, a PHEIC is declared when an unexpected event represents a public health risk through the global spread of disease. The declaration demands a coordinated international response.
The WHO has only announced a public health emergency three times since it was enacted in 2007.
- In 2009, with the H1N1 swine flu pandemic
- In 2014, when polio seemed to surge again, threatening the eradication initiative
- In August 2014, with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was growing out of control
So the Zika virus emergency declaration will be the fourth PHEIC in history. It’s also the first time the UN agency has declared health emergency over a mosquito-borne disease.
Notably, the agency decided not to declare the MERS virus a PHEIC.
The HealthMap system in Portuguese picked up the first indication of a link between Zika virus and the current outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil on November 23, 2015.
The officials have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Latin America, where the Zika virus outbreak is ongoing.
If you are expecting and have recently visited or live in a Zika hit area, consult a doctor whether or not you’ve experienced any signs of the virus.
“Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” says the CDC.
Authorities have revealed that the Zika virus outbreak across Central and South America has been linked to a neurological birth disorder known as microcephaly.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has urged people take part in the fight against Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.
Although India has been more fortunate than 22 Zika-hit countries in South America, the risk of India seeing a Zika patient is very high.
WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh is urging countries in the Region to take preventive measures against the Zika Virus disease.
The New South Wales Ministry of Health has confirmed two cases of Zika virus in Australia from people coming back to Sydney from the Caribbean.