" ITREALMS: WHO: Zika virus may spread in coming months

Thursday, May 19, 2016

WHO: Zika virus may spread in coming months

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that the Zika virus could spread across Europe in coming months reports ITRealms.

WHO regional director for Europe, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, noted that the assessment of the virus classified the risk of an outbreak from low to medium, underscoring that the risk should not be underestimated.

ITRealms recalls that the mosquito-borne virus first discovered in Brazil last year, 2015, has been found in more than 50 countries. Though it is highest on the island of Madeira and the Black Sea coast of Russia and Georgia, where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes who are responsible for most of the infections are indigenous, the risk is still considered moderate in 18 countries where a different mosquito, Aedes albopictus breeds. This mosquito has also been shown to be a potential transmitter of the virus in Africa, Mexico and in lab experiments.

Jakab also said WHO is considering the capacity of countries in Europe to respond and most would do so efficiently and fast, stressing that the Europe-wide risk as low to moderate.

“With this risk assessment, we at WHO want to inform and target preparedness work in each European country based on its level of risk. We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak,” Dr. Jakab.

 Further, WHO urged countries with a high or moderate risk to take stronger measures to stop the spread of mosquitoes and reduce their numbers.While health professionals should be trained and equipped to detect Zika infection and report it within 24 hours. Even as pregnant women should be enabled to protect themselves from infection, including through sexual transmission.

Okoli Vincent/GEE

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