Thursday May 23, 2019

Video on Zika Virus: Many questions remain unanswered

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Zika virus

– Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada
Watch this latest video on Zika virus.

Last year, it was Ebola virus that causes a global alarm and anxiety. Now it is Zika virus.

The World Health Organization is scrambling to address this virus that’s spreading rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean. The virus has been linked to birth defects and, in adults, to a type of paralysis. Experts have lots of unanswered questions, as do ordinary citizens who spoke to VOA. More from health reporter Carol Pearson…

Thus, it emerges that this is causing alarm in Latin America. Many cases of newborn babies born with micro-cephaly (with the smaller size of the head) have been attributed to this virus.

But wait a minute!

Scientists say, they are not yet sure whether Zika virus is to be directly blamed for causing micro-cephaly (causal relationship) or is it something else (other factors) that are playing a role.

Zika virus is transmitted through mosquitoes. Thus, avoiding mosquito-bite is the way to prevent it. This virus can also be transmitted through sex.

Here is an update from Center for Disease Control (CDC) on the areas/countries affected by Zika Virus (as of February 2016):

  • Prior to 2015, such virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed virus infections in Brazil.
  • Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.
  • Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how and where the virus will spread over time.
  • India has not seen any case of this virus as yet. In the USA, about 52 cases of travel -associated Zika virus have been reported. No locally acquired case has been reported as yet.
  • This video is brought to you by NewsGram in collaboration with Voice of America.
  • The author is a Chicago based board certified Neonatologist and editor-in-chief of NewsGram.

Next Story

WHO to Strengthen Strategies to Combat Ebola Epidemic in Congo

The WHO's latest report counted 1,738 cases of Ebola in Congo, including 1,218 deaths

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ebola
FILE - A priest watches as health workers dressed in Ebola protective suits prepare the body of an Ebola patient for burial at the Ebola treatment center in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 26, 2019. VOA

A panel of World Health Organization experts says strategies must be strengthened to combat the worsening Ebola epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The WHO’s latest report counted 1,738 cases of Ebola in Congo, including 1,218 deaths.

Congo’s minister of health, Oly Ilungo, likened the Ebola epidemic to a multi-headed dragon. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the epidemic began in one place, Mangina, but keeps popping up elsewhere.

“Our response, therefore, needs to continually adapt itself to the situation,” said Ilungo. “We need to continually adapt and change our strategy bearing in mind lessons learned.”

He said prevention measures, surveillance, the tracing of infected people, timely treatment and safe burial practices must be maintained. At the same time, he said old tools need to be refreshed and improved.

ebola
FILE – Victorine Siherya, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019. VOA

He proposed setting up a data-driven system, which compiles all the information produced in the response effort.

“Increasingly, it manages to carry out analyses that allow us to get ahead of the problem and we can identify the danger areas where there might be a greater risk of the virus spreading and we can get ahead of the problem,” he added.

The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, finds the increasing number of new Ebola cases extremely worrying and challenging. She warned the risk of the disease spreading beyond Congo’s borders is very high.

She said the DRC’s nine neighboring countries are aware of the dangers and, with the help of the WHO, have taken many steps to prepare for that possibility.

Ebola
An Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo, April, 16, 2019. The World Health Organization is warning it may not be possible to contain Ebola to the two affected provinces in eastern Congo if violent attacks on health teams continue. VOA

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“We have 16 Ebola-treatment centers and units having been established across the nine countries,” she said. “And, in addition over 4,500 health workers have been trained to be able to detect and manage these cases.The countries have continued to engage with communities to raise their awareness in all high-risk areas.”

WHO officials are appealing for intensified international political engagement and financial support to combat Ebola. They warn the further spread of the dangerous disease would have serious social and economic regional implications and would trigger an even greater crisis. (VOA)