WHO predicts up to 4 million Zika cases in North & S. America

Published January 29, 2016
San Salvador: A patient suffering from the Guillain-Barre syndrome recovers in the neurology ward of a hospital on Wednesday.—AFP
San Salvador: A patient suffering from the Guillain-Barre syndrome recovers in the neurology ward of a hospital on Wednesday.—AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The World Health Organisation has predicted three to four million people in the Americas (North America and South America) will be affected by the dangerous ‘Zika’ virus.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said on Thursday Zika had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”.

She has set up a Zika ‘emergency team’ after the ‘explosive’ spread of the virus. According to one report here the virus has entered the United States.

“The situation today is dramatically different,” Ms Chan said adding that for decades the disease, transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquito, ‘slumbered’, affecting mainly monkeys and occasionally causing a mild disease of low concern in humans.

“Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively. As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories.

The emergency team will meet on Monday to decide whether Zika should be treated as a global emergency.

The last time an international emergency for the Ebola outbreak was declared in West Africa which has killed more than 11,000 people.

Zika was first detected in Uganda in 1947, but has never caused an outbreak on this scale.

Brazil reported the first cases of Zika in South America in May 2015, a WHO press release said.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2016

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