Zika virus outbreak

Added On January 28, 2016

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently observing an outbreak of the Zika virus in about 21 countries across America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
At least four countries have larger outbreaks, with Brazil being currently the major one.
World News has the details.
Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. However, more investigation is needed to understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus. Other potential causes are also being investigated.
According to the WHO Spokesperson, Zika is not a dangerous disease and has milder symptoms than dengue or yellow fever. The virus is being brought by the same mosquito, the Aedes mosquito which bites in the morning and evening hours.
"First of all, few people only show symptoms, we see figures between 75 and 80 percent that is not 100 percent clear, because Zika, because it is so mild normally, is a fairly unknown disease. That is very important here. So those who do show symptoms normally, typically show fever, headache, joint pain and most distinctively a rash. So the rash seems to be the most distinctive of the features. So right now, people presenting themselves with similar features to their health facilities would get ticked off as presumably Zika infected. Because laboratory tested, we only have a few hundred."
Christian Lindmeier explained that associated with Zika right now in Brazil, they see close to 4,000 Microcephaly cases. Microcephaly again is the condition with abnormally small heads in babies born, which normally goes ahead along with a smaller brain development as well.
"Many, quite some already, get still born, other die other birth and a few survive. So we see all conditions there. We have, at this point, recorded 49 deaths of Microencephalitis".
During large outbreaks in French Polynesia and Brazil in 2013 and 2015 respectively, national health authorities reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease. Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Zika virus infections in the general public as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil.
Meanwhile, the U.S. health experts said that public health officials must prepare now for the inevitable arrival of Zika virus.
The virus is expected to spread to the United States and every country in the Western hemisphere where Aedes mosquitoes, which spread the virus, are known to live, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Aedes mosquitoes live in every Western hemisphere country but Canada and Chile.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, said that Zika will certainly come to America "fairly rapidly."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert earlier this month, warning pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas where Zika is spreading. Most recently, the CDC added the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands to this list. 
The CDC has confirmed Zika virus in about a dozen Americans in a handful of states who had traveled to Latin America. There is not evidence that Zika is spreading among mosquitoes native to the continental USA. The CDC has report local spread of Zika in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island.
The U.S. has had sporadic cases of Zika virus in travelers in the past; none of these cases caused outbreaks. The CDC diagnosed 14 returning travelers with Zika from 2007 to 2014.
Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin on counter-measures against the Zika virus during a governmental meeting in Moscow, Wednesday.
Russian President Putin demanded that special attention be paid to the virus, as it has already popped up in several European countries with pregnant women being particularly endangered. 
Skvortsova assured Putin that the virus is being monitored since it emerged.
"In fact currently we are working on domestic vaccines and prevention compounds in order to control the virus from the moment where it would develop unknown strains with new properties."
SOUNDBITE (RUSSIAN) Vladimir Putin, Russian President
"I want you to pay special attention to that as it infests pregnant women and can cause serious consequences for their children, therefore special attention must be paid here - the signs must be interpreted effectively. Your good experience in working with aviation and transport companies will help here. Of course, we have to work on compounds and vaccines."
People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available. 
The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.