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Zika No Longer A Public Health Crisis, Declares WHO

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  • WHO ends Zika public health emergency
  • Health experts warn that this could hamper progress for further research and treatment
  • Zika infection risk is low if necessary precautions are taken

Zika No Longer A Public Health Crisis, Declares WHO

Zika virus outbreak linked to deformations in babies' heads and brains, no longer poses a world public health emergency, announced the World Health Organization. But WHO warned the epidemic remains a challenge.

In a statement, the WHO explained: 'Many aspects of this disease and associated consequences still remain to be understood, but this can best be done through sustained research.'

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Dr Peter Salama, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, insisted the threat is not over, and we should not underestimate Zika.

But it no longer meets the requirements to be deemed an 'emergency'.

'We are not downgrading the importance of Zika,' said Dr Salama.

'Zika is here to stay, and the WHO's response is here to stay.' 

"The Zika virus remains a highly significant and long term problem, but it is not any more a public health emergency of international concern," the world health body's emergency committee chair Dr David Heymann said.

In February 2016, the UN's global health agency declared Zika epidemic a global health emergency.

Responding to the WHO announcement, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control called the move to be technical and cautioned that pregnant women should avoid traveling to  areas with local transmission of Zika.

About Zika:

First outbreak in Brazil (May 2015) has led to instances of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects. I.e. microcephaly (abnormal small size of the fetus head associated with incomplete brain development).

  • Zika virus spreads through the bite of Aedes aegypti
  • Zika virus is closely related to the dengue virus
  • Probable transmission through blood and sexual intercourse; from mother to child 
  • 1 in 5 people shows symptoms
  • Symptoms include fever, skin rash, fatigue, red eyes, headache and joint pain
  • Zika virus genome sequenced by the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana
  • There is no medicine to treat Zika nor vaccine to prevent it 
  • In June 2016 the first Zika related case was reported in the US
"We are not downgrading the importance of Zika, in fact by placing this as a longer term of programme of work, we're sending the message that Zika is here to stay and WHO's response is here to stay in a very robust manner," said Dr Peter Salama, director of the agency's health emergencies programme.

The World Health Organization announced that the Zika virus outbreak, linked to , though it warned the epidemic remains a challenge. Brazil, the epicentre of the outbreak, has however refused to downgrade the risk, while experts swiftly lashed out against the world health body's decision.

Ways to Protect Yourself from Zika Virus
  • Avoid travel to Zika virus prone areas
  • Prevent stagnation of water
  • Spray on mosquito repellents
  • Wear full sleeved shirts and full length pants
  • Use mosquito nets
  • Drink plenty of water
Source: Medindia

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