Saturday October 20, 2018

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)
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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)

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  • 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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Ebola Not A Global Health Emergency: WHO

WHO advised DRC's nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories

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An emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization has decided that the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO said Wednesday that 216 cases of Ebola and 139 deaths had been reported, and its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee said the outbreak was a matter of serious concern, especially since it is occurring in an area of conflict in eastern DRC. It said this posed problems for health workers who need to move around freely and track people who are infected with the virus and need treatment.

But the committee said that one reason it did not regard the outbreak as a global threat was that the virus had not spread into neighboring countries.

Congo,ebola
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Committee Chairman Robert Steffan said the international response to the outbreak had been very good. He said WHO and other agencies had achieved quite a lot since the outbreak was declared Aug. 1. In fact, he said the disease was being brought under control in North Kivu province.

The disease is flaring up in another province, and the response is being concentrated in this area, he said, “so we do have some optimism that this outbreak, just like the one in May, will be brought under control within reasonable time.”

Steffan said the committee agreed that declaring an international emergency at this time would hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus. He said a declaration would have implications for travel and trade, making it difficult for needed experts and supplies to access the affected areas.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

However, as a precaution, WHO recommended exit screenings, including at airports, ports and land crossings. But it noted that entry screenings, particularly in distant airports, would have no public health benefit and would be costly.

Also Read: North Kivu And Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children In This New School Year

WHO advised DRC’s nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories, and it said it was supporting them with equipment and personnel. It said these preparedness activities were expensive and would require substantial financial support from the international community. (VOA)