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Zika Virus Is No Longer An International Public Health Problem, WHO Says

By Monica U Santos , Nov 20, 2016 10:06 PM EST
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The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that the Zika virus is no longer an international public health emergency. The mosquito-borne Zika virus is no longer a public health problem. And after Zika virus became a hot topic at the annual meeting of the International Health Regulations and other health conferences, it was now declared no longer a global health threat.

What Is Zika Virus?

As defined by the WHO, Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes is a genus of mosquitoes originally found in tropical and subtropical zones. Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys and later identified in humans in 1952 in both Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Aedes mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Therefore, Zika virus can be obtained any time of the day. It is also reported that Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects and unfortunately, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Zika Virus Is No Longer An International Public Health Problem

The WHO's Emergency Committee on Zika and microcephaly met for the fifth time and determined the mosquito-borne disease was no longer a global health threat under International health regulations. But as it lifted the nine-month declaration, the United Nations health agency said it remains a "significant and enduring public health challenge".

"Many aspects of this disease and associated consequences still remain to be understood, but this can best be done through sustained research," the WHO said in a statement. "The EC recommended that this should be escalated into a sustained program of work with dedicated resources to address the long-term nature of the disease and its associated consequences."

Experts said that headlines suggesting the crisis is over may lead people to take fewer precautions against sexual and mosquito-borne transmission. “We are still not out of the woods,” said Scott C. Weaver in an interview. He is a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, who was among the first to warn that the virus threatened the Americas.

 

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