Zika No Longer Constitutes International Emergency- W.H.O

Zika, w.h.oThe World Health Organization (W.H.O), has declared that the Zika virus and related neurological complications, no longer constitute an international emergency.

However, the agency says it would continue to work on the outbreak through a “robust” programme, as the virus still represents “a significant and an enduring public health challenge”.

In February, W.H.O Director-General, Margaret Chan, had called it an “extraordinary event”, while declaring a public health emergency.

Carried by mosquitoes, the Zika virus can cause the rare birth defect, Microcephaly, (where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development) and other neurological disorders in infants and adults.

It has spread to more than 60 countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified in 2015, in Brazil.

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff had said “as long as the mosquito keeps reproducing, each and every one of us is losing the battle against the mosquito”.

“We have to mobilize so we do not lose this battle.”

Health officials in affected countries had advised women to avoid pregnancy – in some cases, for up to two years.

Here are a few things you might need to know about the virus

  • Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (aegypti and Ae albopictus)
  • These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
  • Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  • In most people, symptoms of the virus are mild, including fever, headache, rash and possible pink eye. In fact, 80% of those infected never know they have the disease.

Victoria Azarenka Ruled Out Of Wimbledon

Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon, serena williamsTwo-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka has been ruled out of Wimbledon with a knee injury.

The 26-year-old was seeded sixth for the tournament which begins on Monday.

The two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist has not played since retiring from her first-round match against Italian Karin Knapp at last month’s French Open.

The Belarusian’s withdrawal means five-time champion Venus Williams will move up into the top eight seeds.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been plagued by foot injuries in recent years.

Meanwhile, world number one, Serena Williams says she is looking forward to playing in this year’s Wimbledon championships, describing the event as special.

Serena, who has been confirmed as the top seed in the women’s singles is aiming to win her 22nd grand slam title.

She has also been speaking on the Rio 2016 Olympics and the dreaded Zika virus that has led to the withdrawals of some high profile athletes.

Zika Virus: Andy Murray To Seek Advice Before Olympics

Andy Murray, Olympics, Zika VirusWorld’s number two, Andy Murray, says he will seek medical guidance on the Zika virus before travelling for the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

According to Murray, his decision was as a result of recent alarms raised by prominent scientists that it was “unethical” for the summer Olympics and Paralympics to take place.

The 29-year-old British number one told BBC that he would speak to a couple of doctors about Zika and see what their advice would be.

“I plan on playing for sure but don’t know the exact situation there now.

“I need to get a little bit more information first before making a decision,” he said.

The International Olympic Committee has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of the mosquito-borne virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.Andy Murray, Zika

The global health body said that the call would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache which normally last for 2-7 days.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The best form of prevention, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is protection against mosquito bites.

The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

WHO Rejects Calls To Move Rio Olympics Over Zika Outbreak

Zika, WHO, Rio OlympicsThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has rejected calls to move or postpone this summer’s Rio Olympic Games over the Zika epidemic.

The global health body said that the call would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.

At least 100 prominent scientists said in an open letter to WHO that new findings about the Zika virus made it “unethical” for the games to go ahead.

The experts have also asked the global organisation to revisit its Zika guidance.

157 Pregnant Women In U.S. Infected With Zika – CDC

MosquitoThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that some 157 pregnant women in the United States and another 122 in U.S. territories, primarily Puerto Rico, have tested positive for infection with the Zika virus.

The CDC, in a conference call, said that so far fewer than a dozen of the infected pregnant women it has tracked in the United States and Puerto Rico have had miscarriages or babies born with birth defects.

This was the first time the agency had disclosed the number of Zika-infected pregnant women in the United States and its territories.

According to Reuters, U.S. health officials have determined that the mosquito-borne virus, which can also be transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected person, can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by unusually small head size, and can lead to severe brain abnormalities and developmental problems in babies.

The agency told reporters on the call it has dramatically increased its testing capacity for Zika in the United States, as it girds for an increase in cases during the summer mosquito season.

Virtually all the Zika cases in the continental United States so far have been in people returning from countries where Zika is prevalent, such as Brazil, or through sexual transmission by travellers.

The latest report comes at a time when U.S. health officials have been clamouring for adequate funding to support mosquito protection and eradication, development of anti-Zika vaccines and better diagnostics and long-term studies needed to follow children born to infected mothers and to better understand the sexual transmission risk.

Over Two Billion People In Zika Prone Areas

ZikaA newly published journal says more than two billion people are currently living in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread.

The latest research showed that mapping Zika was more complex than simply defining where the mosquito can survive.

By learning where the Zika virus could thrive, the researchers are now able to predict where else may be affected.

One of the researchers, Dr. Oliver Brady, disclosed the first maps to come out that really used the data they had for the virus, stressing that earlier maps were based on Zika virus being like dengue or chikungunya.

“We are the first to add the very precise geographic and environmental conditions data we have on Zika,” Dr. Brady told BBC.

For now, the researchers confirmed that large areas of South America are vulnerable while 2.2 billion people live in areas defined as being “at risk”.

This comes barely a week after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus causes severe birth defects.

US Investigates 14 New Zika Cases

ZikaThe US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says it is investigating 14 new reports of possible sexual transmission of the Zika virus. This includes several pregnant women.

The CDC made the revelation as it published new guidance on sexual transmission of the virus.

The guidance has been issued in response to confirmation of the first case of Zika in a non-traveller in the continental United States.

That case was linked to sexual contact with an infected partner.

The CDC is advising all men who have travelled to an area active with the Zika virus to use protection or abstain from intercourse for the length of the pregnancy.

The health body said that there is no evidence yet that women can transmit Zika virus to their partners, but more research is needed to understand this issue.

Zika is linked to the microcephaly birth defects in babies.

The primary method of infection of the virus remains mosquito bites. Experts said that women who are pregnant, should try to avoid the insects.

On Tuesday, Margaret Chan, the Head of the World Health Organization, said the world faced “a long journey” to defeat Zika.

Speaking in Brazil, where most cases had been recorded, she said it was a “very tricky, tenacious and difficult virus”.

UK Records Four Cases Of Zika Virus

MosquitoFour cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the United Kingdom.

A public health doctor in England, Dilys Morgan, said four “travel-associated” cases of the virus had been found in the last six weeks.

The main concern surrounding the virus is a possible link between the virus and a rise in cases of microcephaly, a birth defect characterised by an abnormally small head that can result in developmental problems.

Zika is spreading rapidly through Latin America and most people who contract it have either mild or no symptoms.

The World Health Organisation declared Zika a global emergency last month, with some countries discouraging nationals from travelling to Latin American counties.

Kenya’s Athletes Threaten To Pull Out Of Rio Olympics

OlympicsKenya has threatened to pull its elite runners and other athletes out of the Rio Olympics unless it gets assurances they would not be exposed to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil.

Sports authorities across the world are scrambling to find out more about the mosquito-borne virus as they make plans for the Games in August.

Kenya was expected to be one of the star performers at Rio, fielding some of the best middle and long-distance runners in the world.

The East African nation topped the medals table at the 2015 world championships.

Meanwhile, top health officials say they were sticking to existing guidelines regarding warning related to the Zika virus.

The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci says athletes would need to make a personal decision about whether or not to skip the Olympics.

2016 Budget Defence: EFCC, Health Ministry Ask For More Funding

EFCCThe Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has appealed for more funding to help it carry out its mandate of checking financial crimes in the country.

This appeal was made by the chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes to defend the commission’s 2016 budget.

“I very much believe that even if you’re going to give us everything we have asked for, it will not be adequate but considering the situation we are, there is nothing we can do,” he said.

The EFCC Chairman was also questioned on the agency’s decision to investigate different sectors of the economy.

As work continues on the 2016 budget that is before the National Assembly, committees have been meeting with the representatives of the different arms of the executive to put finishing touches to the over 6 trillion naira budget.

The Minister of Health also brought this same appeal for more funding when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health.

Prof. Isaac Adewole raised the issue of shortfall in the ministry’s budget.

“When we looked at the budget including submissions from the teaching hospitals, medical centres and agencies, it came down to 347 billion and we got only 335.7 which is about 10%.”

He also touched on the Zika virus that is becoming a global concern, “I want to say that Zika has been with since 1954. About 25% of Nigerians are positive to Zika virus but what has happened is that it has done nothing to us,” he said, while explaining the need for more action.

The Committee on Local Content also scrutinized the budget of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board while the Committee on Science and Technology is also holding its meeting with agencies under its committee.

A lot of the committees are still expected to appear before the 2016 budget would be presented to the House in plenary.

Zika Virus: Rare Case Of Sexual Transmission Reported In US

MosquitoA rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the US.

The BBC reports that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said a patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact.

The person had not travelled to infected areas but the partner had returned from Venezuela.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency.

This case in Dallas would be the first known infection to take place in the mainland US, though Texas has seen seven other Zika cases all related to foreign travel.

A principal deputy director for CDC, Anne Schuchat, said this was the first case it had dealt with involving a “non-traveller”.

“We don’t believe this was spread through mosquito bites, but we do believe it was spread through a sexual contact.”

A statement issued by the CDC said the best way to avoid Zika virus infection was “to prevent mosquito bites and avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika”.

The case is “significant” if it was definitely transmitted through sexual contact.

“This significance is parallel with the HIV/Aids case. It’s worse in some ways, because there are two modes of transmission,” a senior fellow for public health at the UN Foundation, Alaka Basu, explained.

Zika Virus: WHO Declares Global Emergency

Zika-fumigationThe World Health Organization has said that a disease linked to the Zika virus in Latin America poses a global public health emergency requiring a united response.

With the increasing report of infection as a result of the virus, experts are worried that it is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences.

The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains.

The WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola that ravaged some countries in Africa.

“Extraordinary Event”

It means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.

There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October, the BBC reported.

WHO director general, Margaret Chan, called Zika an “extraordinary event” that needed a co-ordinated response.

“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.”

Dr Chan justified declaring an emergency even amid uncertainties about the disease, saying it was time to take action.

The WHO faced heavy criticism for waiting too long to declare the Ebola outbreak a public emergency.

Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika. The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection.

The WHO has already warned that Zika is likely to “spread explosively” across nearly all of the Americas. More than 20 countries, including Brazil, are reporting cases.

Most infections are mild and cause few or no symptoms, although there have been some reported cases of a rare paralysis disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.