LATIN AMERICA: Zika Virus; Brazil’s Zika Battle
Zika Virus Worries.
(World map showing where active transmission of the Zika virus have been reported, mostly in Central and South America. Map: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
The World Health Organization says the Zika virus — which may be linked to birth defects — is spreading explosively in the Americas and may infect as many as four million people by the end of the year.
The global health agency says it will convene a special meeting on Monday (February 1) to decide whether to declare a public health emergency. The W.H.O. is moving swiftly to combat this outbreak after widespread criticism that it had allowed the last major global health crisis, Ebola, to fester without a coordinated, effective strategy, the New York Times reported Thursday (January 28).
At a briefing in Switzerland, Dr. Margaret Chan, the W.H.O.’s director-general, said Zika cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the region. “The level of alarm is extremely high,” she said Thursday.
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, according to the CDC.
The outbreak in Brazil, where the first infection was reported, has led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
The W.H.O. says a “causal relationship” between Zika virus infection and birth malformations and neurological syndromes has not yet been established, but is strongly suspected.
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Brazil Deploys Army.
(Aedes aegypti mosquito, one of the transmitters of Zika virus. Photo by Rafaelgilo, via Wikipedia)
In Brazil, where the Zika outbreak has hit hardest, soldiers are being deployed to combat mosquitos, which transmit the disease.
The government says it will deploy 220,000 soldiers who will go from home to home handing out leaflets on how to avoid the spread of Zika, which has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains, the BBC reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert on January 15 advising pregnant women to consider delaying travel to affected areas to avoid the possibility of being infected, according to NBC.
In the Central American country of El Salvador, the government has taken the drastic step of urging women to refrain from becoming pregnant until 2018
For more about Zika virus, click here.
Entry filed under: Disaster Relief, Homeland Security, Latin America, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Uncategorized. Tags: Brazil, Disaster Relief, El Salvador, Latin America, Topics, Zika virus.