Friday, 29 January 2016

Zika virus 'spreading explosively,' WHO leader says

 
The Zika virus is "is now spreading explosively" in the Americas, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday, with another official estimating between 3 million to 4 million infections in the region over a 12-month period.

"The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty," Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general, told her organization's executive board members. "We need to get some answers quickly."

The lack of any immunity to Zika and the fact that mosquitoes spreading the virus can be found most "everywhere in the Americas" -- from Argentina to the southern United States -- explains the speed of its transmission, said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, an official with the WHO and Pan American Health Organization.

Aldighieri gave the estimate for Zika infections (including people who do not report clinical symptoms) based on data regarding the spread of a different mosquito-borne virus -- dengue. He acknowledged the virus is circulating with "very high intensity."

Some 80% of those infected with the Zika virus don't even feel sick, and most who do have relatively mild symptoms such as a fever, rash, joint pain or pink eye. But there are major worries about the dangers pregnant women and their babies face.

The WHO's Dr. Bruce Aylward cautioned there was no definitive link between Zika and these disorders but sees a legitimate reason for concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Anne Schuchat said there is a "strong" suggestion they are connected.

While studies are underway to determine any links, millions of people live in areas with real fears about what this virus can do.
 
 
CNN

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