UN agency lifts Zika emergency, prepares for long-term fight

WHO had declared Zika a global health emergency in February, after its explosive spread in the Americas.

The Zika virus is at least the "most likely explanation" for the outbreak in recent months in Latin America. Even so, the virus is still around, and the agency said it would continue to work on the outbreak through a "robust program".

"Last year we didn't have enough tests (to detect Zika), so we can't specify how the virus circulated last year", said Wanderson Oliveira, in charge of emergencies response at the health ministry.

"As a technical matter, Zika is no longer spreading at the level usually considered for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern", says Gostin, Faculty Director for the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and University Professor. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. Thanks to a widespread, coordinated response from multiple nations, World Health Organization lifted the state of emergency while issuing a warning that the virus is still a serious problem. "We have to remind them that Zika is a silent disease and some people won't have symptoms", added Mr. Suwannachai.

Zika can also be sexually transmitted.

Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are
Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are

Zika gained worldwide notoriety this year because of its potentially devastating consequences. The outstanding questions require long-term, coordinated research, which World Health Organization and its partners can do better by forming a technical advisory group to coordinate the worldwide response, Heymann said. It's now been strongly established - Zika causes not only microcephaly, but a range of other awful and subtle birth defects. Many of these women are from low-income families; they can't afford to go back to work while also taking care of a child with a severe developmental disorder and physical disabilities.

Traditionally, WHO's emergency declarations are created to motivate governments to take steps to curb epidemics.

The WHO says more than 2,100 cases of nervous-system malformations have been reported in Brazil alone.

"The number of confirmed cases [of microcephaly] is less than what we did imagine", Salama said at the press conference.

The other scary thing about Zika is that we still don't know very much about it, including how it spreads, and the unknown ways it affects the developing fetus and those who have been infected. World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both say fighting mosquitoes is the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.

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  • Marjorie Miles