Health Minister Allays Zika Virus Fears In Nigeria

ZikaThe Minister of Health has been giving an update on the outbreak of Lassa fever in different parts of the country, saying the disease has so far affected 20 states of the federation.

Professor Isaac Adewole addressed a press conference in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on Thursday.

“You will all recall that on the 8th of January 2016, I briefed the nation on the current outbreak of Lassa fever that started in December 2015 and which has now affected 20 states of the federation.

“As of today, Nigeria has recorded 176 cases with 108 deaths, giving a case fatality rate of 61.4%.

“It is important that I inform the nation that this current outbreak is under control as evident by decline in new suspected cases, new laboratory confirmed cases and newly reported cases by week.

“Despite this achievement however, you will all agree with me that it will be too dangerous for us as a nation to go complacent at this stage,” he said.

The Minister also dismissed fears about the possible outbreak of Zika virus in Nigeria, saying there is no need to worry.

“Although two African countries have reported Zika infection in the recent outbreak and in the past many others, causal relationship between Zika virus infection, birth defect and neurological syndromes have not been established in this continent.

“Nigerian scientist working in Western Nigeria in 1954 discovered Zika Virus in Nigeria. Further studies in the years 1975 to 1979 show that 40% of Nigerian adults and 25% of Nigerian children have antibodies to Zika Virus, meaning they are protected against this virus.”

First Zika Virus Case Confirmed In Europe

ZikaA pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the Zika virus in Spain.

This is the first such case in Europe.

The health ministry said the woman had recently returned from Colombia, where it is believed she was infected.

Zika, which is spreading through the Americas, has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the microcephaly condition, linked to the mosquito-borne virus, a global public health emergency.

On Thursday, the WHO also advised countries not to accept blood donations from people who had travelled to Zika-affected regions.

The link between Zika infection and microcephaly has not been confirmed and the risks at different stages of pregnancy are unknown.

The WHO has predicted that at least four million people could be infected with Zika in the Americas in 2016.

The agency expressed belief that most victims would not develop symptoms, stressing that the infection had been linked to brain defects in babies.