Tuesday, 2 February 2016

ZIKA VIRUS; WHO DECLARES A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

WHO has already declared current Zika virus outbreak in Latin America as a global public health emergency and further warned that Zika virus infection equates Ebola and there is a likelihood of an explosive spread nearly across all America and other countries if the spread of the virus is not contained. As per now, more than 4,000 cases of Zika virus infection complication (microcephaly) have been reported in Brazil. 

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The hallmark for this declaration is that Zika virus infection has devastating consequences to include Gullain-Barre'-Syndrome, and babies being born with brain damage. 

Zika virus is transmitted primarily though a bite of infected Aedes species of mosquito. Further spread can occur though:-
  • Mother-to-child transmission of the virus
  • Sexual contact.
  • Infected blood transfusion. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 5 of the Zika virus infected cases become ill (Zika fever). The symptoms are self limiting and is managed conservatively since there is no medication or vaccine for the cure of Zika fever. Individual with Zika infection may present with:-
  • Fever
  • Joint pains.
  • Rash.
  • Redness of the eyes "ojos" (conjuctivitis)
  • Headache
  • muscle pains.
There are enhanced precautions put in place in order to curb further spread and avoid devastating outcomes of Zika virus infection to include:-
  1. Mothers to postpone getting pregnant in affected countries until the situation is contained.
  2. Travel restrictions. Public advised to postpone traveling especially to Zika stricken areas.
  3. Sleeping under mosquito bed nets.
  4. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers.
  5. Use window or door screens to keep mosquitoes away.
This is part of the speech delivered by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO General Director.
"I am now declaring that the reason cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster of French Polynesia in 2014 constitute a public health emergency of international concern."
Dr. Chan further defined the events of complications following Zika virus infection as an extra-ordinary event and termed it as a public health threat to world at large. She added that a coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread. 

 Zika virus infection has been associated with devastating complication to include:-
  • Microcephaly associated with neurological deficits, small head with receding face, seizures, mental retardation, delayed milestones, The child may also exhibit exaggerated motor functions like hyperactivity.
  • Guillain-Barre'-Syndrome has also been reported in cases suspected to have Zika virus infection. 

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References:
Microcephaly- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcephaly

Zika Virus- Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zika_virus.

Zika- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Address: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

Zika-linked condition: WHO declares global emergency- BBC News. Address: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35459797.