Zika Virus outbreak worsens – The World Health Organization (WHO) intervenes with emergency committee on..
It was once medical jargon and a while ago, it became a localized threat. Now it’s become a household name that we’ve all been told to be on the lookout for. The zika virus is out and on the prowl and unless we raise our buttresses, we’ll be the ones left to repent. In view of the outbreak, the World Health Organization is said to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.
1 A little more on the deadly zika virus!
The zika virus is transmitted via the Aedes mosquito and causes a fever known as the zika fever, similar to yellow fever, dengue etc. It cannot be prevented by vaccines or drugs and has no cure either, so far. The infection begins around the skin cells, which are near to the site of the mosquito bite, following a spread to the lymph nodes and then into the bloodstream.
Although the effects of the virus on the human body aren’t that serious to be largely alarmed about, the virus is capable of traveling to a baby growing in the mother’s womb through the placenta. The zika virus is linked with a condition called microcephaly, which results in the baby being born with an extremely small skull and permanent un-rectifiable defects which may lead to the death of the infant, following birth.
The risk of catching the zika fever is becoming higher by the day, prominently in the Americas, particularly South America, but worldwide, everyone has been told to be wary. People have been told to make their homes and surroundings mosquito-free and doctors in Brazil have even told women to refrain from getting pregnant till the outbreak dies down completely, which may even take a few years.
2 Why did WHO decided to scrupulously take things on?
The Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan, in her briefing of the situation to the Executive Board, stated that WHO was deeply concerned about the rapid outbreak for four main reasons. One, the association of the virus with childbirth and neurological defects. Two, the potential international spread, given the carrier of the virus is nothing but the parasite that prevails everywhere – the mosquito. Three, the lack of population immunity in the newly affected areas and four, the non-prevalence of vaccines or any other form of treatment or cure for the disease.
She also stated that this year’s El Nino weather pattern was bound to aid the mosquito population to multiply by helping in breeding, and all this makes it a matter that must be looked into immediately.
3 The WHO’s action-plan!
On Monday, February 1st, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, is going to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and the observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations, at Geneva to determine whether the situation is worthy of being called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern or not.
Since May 2015, when initial traces of the zika virus ware detected, the WHO has been working very closely with the afflicted countries. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has disbursed members of the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) to countries in trouble to help reinforce their system for identifying the inception and circulation of the zika virus in the country, through laboratory tests and quick reporting.
All steps required to be taken towards curbing the threat posed by this virus will be taken, like ensuring accurate clinical diagnosis, preventing the spread, providing treatment etc. The convention will also push it’s experts to address the gaps in scientific knowledge pertaining to the shrinking of babies skulls and the treatment for this disease by development of a potential vaccine.