The World Health Organization has declared that the Zika virus outbreak has met the conditions for a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Global health officials say the spread of virus in the Americas is serious enough to require an international response.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan says while the link has not yet been scientifically proven, experts agree that a causal relationship between Zika during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected.
The WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee also says the association between the Zika virus and microcephaly constitutes an “extraordinary event.”
Control of mosquito populations biggest prevention tool
Dr. Chan says the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.
They also confirmed that the virus alone is not a clinically serious condition.
This is the first WHO international emergency since the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Top B.C. health official weighs in
B.C.’s deputy chief medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says it doesn’t really change anything for us here.
“The main risk for us is for people who are travelling to areas where the mosquitos can carry the virus have been active.”
While not as dangerous as Ebola, Zika has been blamed for escalating rate of babies born with small heads — otherwise its symptoms include rashes, fever and body aches. Some people never got any symptoms at all.
Dr Chan: Pregnant women can consider delaying travel to #Zika-affected areas, shld protect themselves w/ safe mosq repellant, long clothing— WHO (@WHO) February 1, 2016
Dr Heymann: #ZikaVirus alone will not be a Public Health Emergency of Intl Concern as we know it is not a clinically serious condition— WHO (@WHO) February 1, 2016