Tuesday October 22, 2019

Zika Congenital Syndrome spreading geographically, World Health Organization

The World Health Organization says that the Zika virus is spreading worldwide like a wildfire and it is most dangerous to infants

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Nurses set up a mosquito tent over a hospital bed, as part of a precautionary protocol for patients who are infected by Zika at Farrer Park Hospital in Singapore Sept. 2, 2016 (VOA)

A World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee reports the threat of the Zika virus and its link with microcephaly or brain abnormalities in newborn babies, and other neurological disorders, remains high.

The committee said Zika infections constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

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The committee warned the Zika virus is continuing to spread geographically. New outbreaks continue to be identified, most recently in Guinea Bissau and Singapore. It said nations must remain vigilant and take measures to contain the disease.

A pest control worker fumigates drains at a local housing development where Zika infections were reported in Singapore, Sept. 1, 2016 (VOA)
A pest control worker fumigates drains at a local housing development where Zika infections were reported in Singapore, Sept. 1, 2016 (VOA)

Since the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency on February 1, the committee said it has learned a lot about the virus and its impacts. Additionally, the committee said it has taught people how to control the virus and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Male Aedes Aegypti Mosquito (Wikimedia Commons)
Male Aedes Aegypti Mosquito (Wikimedia Commons)

WHO executive director of outbreaks and health emergencies, Peter Salama said health workers were trained on how to deal with the consequences of infection, helping women manage their pregnancies and dealing with a newborn baby with a brain disorder.

“Working with the scientific community, we have learned that Zika has consequences with infants beyond microcephaly to a range of complications from hearing and eyesight complications to seizures,” he said. “And we now have called these the Zika Congenital Syndrome. Many entities, both public and private, are working on the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.”

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Three governments — Brazil, the United States, and Singapore — provided information on microcephaly, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and other neurological disorders. Brazil reported that none of the athletes or people who attended the Olympics was infected with Zika and said the upcoming Paralympics also would be safe.

The World Health Organization reaffirmed its previous advice that there should not be any restrictions on travel or trade with countries where Zika is being transmitted. (VOA)

  • Navmi Arora

    First Dengue, then Chickengunia and now this! Soon there’ll come a time when there will be more diseases and less doctors to cure them.

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WHO Reports Progress in Containing Ebola Outbreak in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next, said Ryan.

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WHO, Ebola, Outbreak
The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo. VOA

The World Health Organization reports progress in containing the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but says many challenges to its elimination remain.  WHO reports the number of cases in the outbreak now stands at 3,207, including 2,144 deaths.

The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo.  But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over.

“It is not.  It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next,” said Ryan. “But… I do–I would stand over the fact that we have significantly contained the virus in a much smaller geographic area.  Now we have to kill the virus.  The problem is, it is back in areas that are deeply insecure.”

In fact, the virus has come full circle.  Ryan notes the disease has moved from Butembo and other urban areas to the remote, rural town of Mangina, the epicenter of the outbreak.  He says the virus is back where it began when the Ebola outbreak was declared August 1, 2018.

WHO, Ebola, Outbreak
But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over. Pixabay

“So, essentially the virus is back in the same zone,” said Ryan. “So, the factors that allowed that virus to transmit at low intensity for a number of months, have not changed.  Deep insecurity, reticence amongst the population, distrust and many other factors continue to make this a very dangerous situation.  But a situation, for which I believe we are making significant progress at this time.”

Ryan says WHO is increasing the scale of its operation, engaging in active surveillance across North Kivu province and actively seeking new cases and tracing contacts to keep the virus from spreading.

He says more than 230,000 people have been vaccinated against the deadly disease and more lives are being saved among people infected with the virus who are coming to the treatment centers.

He says the fatality rate among the nearly 800 patients currently in Ebola treatment units is less than one third – a significantly better outcome than the two-thirds fatality rate reported for the disease overall.

Also Read- One in Five People in Conflict-Affected Areas Live with Mental Health Condition

Still, this is the biggest Ebola outbreak in Africa since the epidemic across three West African countries in 2014 killed more than 11,000 people. (VOA)