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Zika virus WHO declares Zika a global emergency

Zika poses a global public health emergency requiring an urgent, united response, says the World Health Organization.

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The infection has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains. play

The infection has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

The World Health Organisation has indicated that Zika requires an urgent, united response considering the rate at which the virus is spreading so far and fast.

"I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern," WHO director general, Margaret Chan has indicated.

She said that the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

RELATED: 7 things you need to know about mosquito virus

She added an alert from WHO places Zika in the same category of international concern as Ebola.

The above concerns were raised after the WHO director general convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that "the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world."

Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the Committee investigating the virus found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

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