WHO Committee Links Zika Virus With Neurological Disorders, Neonatal Malformations

Posted: Feb 2 2016, 5:52am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Dr. Margaret Chan of WHO
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, has convened a meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to determine the rising spread of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how this infection relates to other severe health conditions.

The Committee met on Monday, February 1 by teleconference.

Eighteen experts and health advisers critically examined the spread of Zika virus and a corresponding rise in congenital malformations and neurological complications – finding a link between the two in terms of place and time of occurrence.

Although not scientifically established yet, all the health experts and advisers agreed that there is a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly in unborn babies; calling for a closer scrutiny into the link between the two.

And another thing: the experts think the geographical spread of the mosquito species that causes or transmits Zika virus corresponds with the geographical spread of the disease and consequence microcephaly in babies.

Considering that cases of microcephaly and attendant neurological disorders in Brazil, last seen in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes public health threats to other parts of the world – the committee asked that a coordinated international response is required to stem the tide of the public health threats from spreading to other parts of the world.

“I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” Dr. Chan announced.

“A coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy,” she added.

WHO has not seen a need to impose travel or trade bans to curtail the spread of Zika virus, but thinks destroying mosquito populations and preventing bites on pregnant women would go a long way until the global health agency comes up with new measures to deal with the problem.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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