Zika Virus Outbreak Latest News & Updates: Why Zika Virus Becomes An International Emergency

By Kristine Walker, Parent Herald July 25, 11:33 am

Due to the alarming increase in Zika virus cases in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus as the latest global public health emergency in February. The declaration came after the previous international emergency, which was the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed over 10,000 people.

The alarming Zika virus outbreak, which has been linked to be the cause of birth defects and microcephaly, started in Brazil last year but the virus has spread to several nations in the Americas. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that at least 50 countries and territories in the Americas have reported active Zika outbreaks, with Brazil as the most affected nation.

What Is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is an infection transmitted to people mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also responsible for spreading dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. According to Ahram Online, no treatment or vaccine is currently available for Zika virus but several companies and scientists have been developing a safe and effective Zika vaccine.

How Dangerous Is Zika Virus?

Even though deaths are rare, Zika virus can cause severe fetal brain defects such as microcephaly during pregnancy. As Parent Herald previously reported, Zika is also associated with other neurological complications and Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a rare neurological disorder causing paralysis.

Why Zika Virus Is Considered An International Emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus as a global public health emergency because the agency believed that the burgeoning cases of Zika infection can pose a threat worldwide. WHO also estimated that there could be at least 4 million Zika cases in the Americas next year.

"After a review of the evidence, the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and public health threat to other parts of the world," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, Portland Press Herald quoted.

Zika Outbreak: The Reason Why The 2016 Brazil Olympics Should Be Postponed

In other Zika-related news, the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is still considered as the main reason to postpone the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5. In another Portland Press Herald report, the publication wrote that the event should be postponed as the public health threat is addressed.

With an estimated half-a-million tourists, athletes and staff from more than 200 nations coming in Brazil for the Olympics, their homelands will be reportedly vulnerable to the potential spread of Zika virus, resulting to more calamitous public health scenario. Due to this possibility, British officials feared Zika virus could be imported into the U.K. as people travel to Brazil for the Rio Olympics, The Telegraph reported.

Considering the threats of Zika virus, do you think the 2016 Rio Olympics should be postponed? Sound off below and follow Parent Herald for more news and updates.

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