WHO “We Expect The Zika Virus To Spread To Europe By The Summer”.

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The likelihood of local Zika transmission if no preventative action is taken is “moderate” in 18 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

While the UK is deemed to be “low” risk, global health chiefs have urged people to be prepared.

Officials will also continue to be alert to detect imported cases early and provide public health advice to travellers.

WHO said the risk is higher where the mosquito that carries the virus is present such as the island of Madeira and the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea.

A map showing the likelihood of the spread of the Zika virus in Europe – the darker the colour, the more likely the virus is to spread in that country Credit: WHO

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “With this risk assessment, we at WHO want to inform and target preparedness work in each European country based on its level of risk.

“We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak.”

The Zika virus, which is known to cause birth defects, is currently present in 58 countries.

The most recent figures show that 23 UK travellers have been infected after visiting affected regions.

The likelihood of local Zika transmission if no preventative action is taken is “moderate” in 18 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

While the UK is deemed to be “low” risk, global health chiefs have urged people to be prepared.

Officials will also continue to be alert to detect imported cases early and provide public health advice to travellers.

WHO said the risk is higher where the mosquito that carries the virus is present such as the island of Madeira and the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea.

 

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “With this risk assessment, we at WHO want to inform and target preparedness work in each European country based on its level of risk.

“We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak.”

The Zika virus, which is known to cause birth defects, is currently present in 58 countries.

The most recent figures show that 23 UK travellers have been infected after visiting affected regions.

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2016-05-18/zika-virus-set-to-spread-to-europe-by-summer/

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Zika Virus Found In Semen, 14 Cases Linked To Sexual Contact

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The Centers for Disease Control is investigating the cases, which include two women who did not visit outbreak-hit areas.

Fourteen cases, all involving men who visited areas with Zika outbreaks, are being examined to see if they may have infected their female partners.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the possible cases include two women whose infections have been confirmed.

In four other cases, preliminary tests indicate women had been infected but confirmatory tests are pending.

Eight other cases are still being investigated, the CDC said in a statement.

Several of the 14 women involved in the infections are pregnant.

The agency said there is no evidence that women can spread the virus to their partners, but more research is needed.

The Zika virus is mainly spread by mosquito bites – sexual transmission has been considered rare.

A municipal worker sprays insecticide at the neighborhood of Afogados in Recife
There have been two reported cases, including a recent one in Texas, and at least two other reports of the Zika virus found in semen.

Outbreaks of the virus occurred across most of Latin America and the Caribbean in the last year.

So far, all of the 82 Zika infections diagnosed in the US have involved people who travelled to regions with outbreaks.

EL SALVADOR-HEALTH-ZIKA-VIRUS

In most cases, Zika causes mild or no symptoms – fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes – which last around a week.

Health officials in Brazil are investigating a possible connection between the virus and babies born with brain defects and abnormally small heads – known as microcephaly.

Research is also underway into a possible link between Zika and a paralysing condition in adults called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The CDC is advising men who have been to a Zika outbreak area recently to use a condom when they have sex with a pregnant woman, or to abstain from sex during pregnancy.

It has also recommended that pregnant women postpone trips to more than 30 destinations which have Zika outbreaks.

 

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Zika Virus Update: Colombia Is The Second Worst Affected Nation After Brazil.

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Sky News visits the city of Cartagena, where thousands are living in slum towns right next to polluted stagnant water.

Thomas Moore

On a so-called day of action against the Zika virus in South America, the Colombian health authorities say over 5,000 women in the country have contracted the virus.

Colombia is the second worst affected nation after Brazil.

The national institute for health in Colombia also said on Saturday a total of 31,555 people have been infected with the disease.

In the La Maria district of Cartagena in northern Colombia we have seen why the authorities have such an uphill battle.

Thousands of people are living in slum towns right next to polluted stagnant water.

They have no mosquito repellents and do not wear the long sleeved clothes and trousers recommended to travellers.

It is currently the dry season but all around lie invisible mosquito eggs, laid the last time it rained.

When the rains return in a few weeks those eggs will hatch within hours, leading to an explosion in mosquito numbers and a major problem for the authorities.

The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito and is being linked to cases of microcephaly in babies as well as to neurological conditions such as Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS).

Microcephaly leaves infants with unusually small heads and can result in brain damage and numerous developmental and health problems.

GBS symptoms include muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. In the most serious cases, the muscle weakness can affect breathing and patients may need a breathing tube.

In Brazil, thousands of armed forces took to the streets to combat the spread of the disease.

Members of the army and navy handed out leaflets and warned people about the dangers of leavening tubs of stagnant water in their homes – the perfect breeding ground for the mosquitos.

A man fumigates against mosquitos amid the Zika outbreak

President Dilma Rouseff herself led the campaign, going door to door in a working class neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro.

She said that while the government can play its part, there will be no success unless the people take precautions

“For our children to be healthy, the Zika mosquito cannot be born,” she said.

Authorities in Peru and Venezuela are also stepping up the fight, fumigating mosquitos and killing their lavae.

 

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Zika Virus Update: UN high commissioner for human rights “Latin American countries hit by Zika Virus to allow women access to abortion”

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Strict curbs on contraception and abortion are common in hard-hit nations but UN says women should have choice about degree of risk they’re willing to take.

Women have been protesting anti-abortion laws in El Salvador, which has one of the highest rates of Zika infection – and where even miscarriages can be treated as murder.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has called on Latin American countries hit by the Zika epidemic to allow women access to abortion and birth control, reigniting debate about reproductive rights in the predominantly Catholic region.

The rapidly spreading virus is suspected to have caused an uptick in foetal brain defects. Although this is not yet scientifically proven, many campaigners say women should have a choice about the degree of risk they are willing to take.

This is currently very limited in Latin America due to strict controls on birth control and abortion, which range widely from country to country. On one extreme is El Salvador – which has one of the highest rates of Zika infection in the continent – where even miscarriages can be treated as murder. On the other is Uruguay, where pregnancies can be terminated in any circumstances up to 12 weeks.

The UN commissioner is asking governments in Zika-affected areas to repeal policies that break with international standards on access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion.

“We are asking those governments to go back and change those laws,” said spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly on Friday. “Because how can they ask those women to become pregnant but also not offer them first information that is available, but the possibility to stop their pregnancies if they wish?”

The commissioner’s initiative was welcomed by the US-based NGO the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Women cannot solely bear the burden of curbing the Zika virus,” said Charles Abbott, the group’s legal adviser for Latin America & the Caribbean. “We agree with the OHCHR that these governments must fulfil their international human rights obligations and cannot shirk that responsibility or pass it off to women. This includes adopting laws and policies to respect and protect women’s reproductive rights.”

This is not the only area of contention sparked by the rapid spread of the virus. Scientists in Brazil are also in disagreement about the significance of new studies – revealed on Friday – that show Zika is present in saliva, which some say should prompt warnings against kissing.

The Fiocruz research institute in Rio de Janeiro said on Friday it had identified live samples of Zika in saliva and urine, which merited further research into whether these two fluids could be a source of contagion.

Until the outcome is known, Paulo Gadelha, president of the institute, suggested pregnant women should think twice about kissing anyone other than their partners or sharing drinking glasses or cutlery with people who might be infected.

Although he said this was “not a generalized public health measure”, the proposed precaution has been met with a mixture of fear and derision. Other scientists argue that it is extremely unlikely for the disease to spread in this way.

“The warning is crazy and unnecessary,” said Rubio Soares Campos, who co-identified the first case of Zika in Brazil. “Just because the virus is present in saliva does not mean it can be transmitted that way.”

He argued that it was more likely to behave like dengue, another mosquito-borne disease that is found in human bodily fluids but cannot be spread that way.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/05/zika-virus-epidemic-abortion-birth-control-access-latin-america-united-nations

 

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GHANA: First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, appeal to world powers to find a solution to Zika Virus to avoid another Ebola-like virus epidemic

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The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, has urged the World Health Organisation and the International Community to speedily deal with the Zika Virus outbreak in the Americas to prevent its spread to other parts of the world.

Mrs Mahama, who is also the President of the Organisation of African First Lady Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), said in a statement to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, that already the virus had infected thousands of pregnant women and their newborns in North and South America and continued to spread on a daily basis.

The statement said Mrs Mahama, who was addressing the closing session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of OAFLA, in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, made a passionate appeal to world powers to help the women and their unborn babies now and avoid another Ebola-like virus attack, which was still fresh in the minds of the people.

The meeting, which brought together more than 12 first ladies and representatives, partners, donors, and technical advisors, was on the theme: ‘Advancing Sustainable Partnerships to End Paediatric AIDS & Improve Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights.’

Held twice a year, in January and June, on the sidelines of the African Union Summit, the meeting enables the first ladies to come together to take stock, refocus their commitment and collectively seek ways to overcome the challenges, and identify sustainable and scalable action areas, the statement said.

The statement said the First Lady expressed her appreciation to the other first ladies for their support throughout the meetings. ‘I am confident that together, we can make monumental strides during my tenure of Office.’

She said in furtherance of OAFLA’s pledge in South Africa for an AIDS-free generation, members should embark on a year-long intensive intervention in their respective countries in collaboration with the National AIDS Councils and Commissions, Ministries of Health and UNAIDS of their respective countries.

Mrs Mahama proposed that the focus should be specifically on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2017, through raising awareness among populations for systematic HIV testing of all pregnant women, their partners, and babies born to HIV positive women.

She also called for advocacy and action for an effective integration of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) into maternal newborn and child health for efficiency, rapid scale-up and sustainability.

She said there was the need to succeed in extending efforts and commitment beyond EMRICH to end Paediatric AIDS by 2020 towards an AIDS-Free generation in Africa.

She proposed that the first ladies should join efforts to organise a high-level advocacy meeting on Paediatric AIDS within the next few months with their ministers of health, gender and education, parliamentarians and other partners involved in HIV issues for a stronger political and donor engagement.

She also asked them to mobilise resources within their countries, specifically from the private sector, to scale up treatment of children, according to the statement.

She said only 75 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral for PMTCT in 2014 and only 30 per cent of HIV positive children received treatment while the mother-to-child transmission was no longer an issue in developed countries.

The President of OAFLA said Cuba had already eliminated it and other African countries were on a precipice, therefore, she believed that all OAFLA member countries could and should eliminate mother-to-child transmission by the end of 2017.

Read more at: http://www.modernghana.com/news/673132/first-lady-wants-who-to-check-spread-of-zika-virus.html

 

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Zika Virus Update: Spread Of Virus Not Limited To Mosquito Bite

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The BBC has reports that a  rare case of the Zika virus is being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, in the US.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the first sexually-transmitted case of the Zika virus, confirming for the first time that the spread of the virus is not limited to mosquitoes.

A patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told the BBC.

The person had not travelled to infected areas but their partner had returned from Venezuela.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease linked to the virus a global public health emergency.

The American Red Cross has meanwhile urged prospective blood donors returning from Zika-hit countries to wait at least 28 days before donating their blood.

The “self-deferral” should apply to people returning from Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America during the past four weeks, the Red Cross said in a statement.

Elsewhere:

  • Two cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Australia. Officials said the two Sydney residents had recently returned from the Caribbean.
  • Zika has also been found in two unrelated cases in the Republic of Ireland, officials there said. A man and an older woman, who have both recovered, had a history of travelling to a Zika-affected country.

Meanwhile, Brazil – the country worst hit by the outbreak – has revealed it is investigating 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-35478778

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EP3hHx1DdA

 

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Zika Virus Update: World Health Organisation Warns Virus Spreading ‘Explosively’

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The World Health Organisation has convened an emergency committee on the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus linked to thousands of birth defects in Latin America.

“Last year the disease was detected in the Americas where it is spreading explosively,” WHO director-general, Margaret Chan told a special briefing in Geneva.

She it was “deeply concerning” that the virus has now been detected in 23 countries in the Americas.

The spread of the virus has prompted governments across the world to advise pregnant women against going to the areas where it has been detected.

Chan said: “The level of alarm is extremely high. Arrival of the virus in some cases has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads.”

There is no vaccine or cure for Zika, which has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a serious condition involving abnormally small heads that can cause lifelong developmental problems.

Chan said: “A causal relationship between Zika virus and birth malformations and neurological syndromes has not yet been established, this is an important point, but it is strongly suspected.”

She added: “The possible links have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions. The increase incidence of microcephaly is particularly alarming as it places a heartbreaking burden on families and communities.

Chan outlined four reasons for alarm. “First, the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes. Second the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector. Third the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas. Fourth, the absence of vaccines.”

She added because of this year’s El Nino weather patterns mosquito populations are expected to spread.

She announced: “For all these reasons, I have decided to convene an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations.”

The Committee will meet on Monday and will advice on the international responses and specific measures in affected countries and elsewhere.

Since September, Brazil has registered nearly 4,000 cases of babies with microcephaly.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pledged to wage war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the virus, focusing on getting rid of the insect’s breeding grounds.

Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert from Georgetown University and member of a commission that criticised the WHO for its response to the Ebola virus, warned that the Zika has has an “explosive pandemic potential”.

Speaking to BBC’s World Service said: “With the Rio Olympics on our doorstep I can certainly see this having a pandemic potential.”

He said every review of the WHO’s response to Ebola found that it was “too little, too late”.

Interviewed minute’s Chan’s announcement, he said: “I’m disappointed that WHO has not been acting pro-actively. They have not issued any advice about travel, about surveillance, about mosquito control.”

Read on: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/28/zika-virus-spreading-explosively-says-world-health-organisation

 

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