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.

WHO Sees Zika Link Proven In weeks As U.S. India, Lead Vaccine Race

zika whoThe World Health Organization (WHO) expects suspected links between the Zika virus and two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome, to be confirmed within weeks, a top official said on Friday.

A sharp increase in birth defects in Brazil has triggered a global health emergency over the mosquito-borne virus and spurred a race to develop a vaccine and better diagnostic tests.

“We have a few more weeks to be sure to demonstrate causality, but the link between Zika and Guillain-Barre is highly probable,” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, told a news briefing.

Kieny said U.S. government scientists and an Indian biotechnology company were currently frontrunners in vaccine development, although it would take at least 18 months to start large-scale clinical trials of candidate shots.

“Two vaccine candidates seem to be more advanced: a DNA vaccine from the U.S. National Institutes for Health and an inactivated product from Bharat Biotech in India,” she said.

The NIH is working on a DNA-based vaccine that uses the same approach as one being developed for West Nile virus. India’s Bharat said last week that its experimental vaccine would start pre-clinical trials in animals imminently.

Overall, around 15 groups are working on Zika vaccines, including France’s Sanofi (SASY.PA), as well as researchers in Brazil, who announced a new partnership with the University of Texas on Thursday.

The road to developing a preventative shot against the disease is strewn with hurdles, however, not least because the group viewed as most at risk are pregnant women.

Improved diagnostic tests are also viewed as critical to fighting the disease, which is now sweeping through the Americas, and Kieny said new test kits were being rapidly developed and could be available in weeks.

Researchers in Brazil are scrambling to determine whether Zika has caused a major rise in microcephaly, or abnormally small heads in newborns, with more than 4,000 suspected cases of the condition reported to date. Brazil has confirmed more than 400 of those cases as microcephaly and has identified the presence of Zika in 17 babies, but a link has yet to be proven.

Still, many scientists are convinced that the link is real and new evidence of Zika in the brain of an aborted fetus, reported on Wednesday, has added to the case.

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.”

Brazil Zika Cases Raise Concern Of Virus Transmission Beyond Mosquitoes

ZikaTwo cases of Zika being transmitted through blood transfusions were reported in Brazil on Thursday, adding to concerns over the virus that has been linked to severe birth defects and is typically spread through mosquito bites.

The disclosure of the blood transfusion cases in the industrial city of Campinas near Sao Paulo came two days after Texas authorities said a person became infected through sex. Concern over the virus is mounting as Brazil prepares to host the Olympic Games in August, with tens of thousands of athletes and tourists anticipated.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which has caused outbreaks in at least 26 countries in the Americas. Brazil researchers hope to develop a treatment that could be tested in humans in a year.

Dr. Marcelo Addas Carvalho, director of the blood center at the University of Campinas, said genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood transfusion from a Zika-infected man in March 2015 became infected with the virus, although he did not develop symptoms.

Another man, who had suffered gunshot wounds, became infected with Zika after receiving multiple blood transfusions that included blood donated by an infected person in April 2015, Carvalho said.

Carvalho said that infection probably was caused by the transfusion but genetic tests have not yet been conducted to confirm it. He said it was very unlikely the infection was caused by a mosquito bite because the patient was in a hospital intensive care unit for three months.

The patient later died from his gunshot wounds and not the Zika infection, health officials and Carvalho said.

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.

First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported

zika virus 4The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was the first U.S. Zika case in someone who had not traveled abroad in the current outbreak, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden on Twitter.

However, the CDC has not investigated how the virus was transmitted.

After this case, the CDC advised men to consider using condoms after traveling to areas with the Zika virus. Pregnant women should avoid contact with semen from men exposed to the virus.

The Dallas County Department of health said on Twitter that the person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had traveled to Venezuela. The person infected did not travel to the South American country, county health officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services was slightly more cautious in its assessment, saying in a statement, “Case details are being evaluated, but the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected person to a non-infected person is likely in this case.”

County authorities said there were no reports of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the Texas county.

Previously, international health officials had noted one U.S. case of possible person-to-person sexual transmission. But the Pan American Health Organization said more evidence was needed to confirm sexual contact as a means of Zika transmission. The medical literature also has one case in which the virus was detected in semen.

The virus has been reported in more than 30 countries and linked to microcephaly, in which babies have abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.

The American Red Cross on Tuesday asked blood donors who have traveled to Zika virus outbreak areas such as Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central or South America to wait at least 28 days before donating. However, the risk of transmitting the virus through blood donations remained “extremely” low in the continental United States, the disaster relief agency said.

Zika Emergency Talks Hold  

zikaThe World Health Organization (WHO) is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus.

The meeting in Geneva will decide whether to declare a global emergency.

W.H.O officials have described Zika as moving “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”.

Most cases will have no symptoms but the virus has been linked to brain abnormalities in thousands of babies, mainly in South America.

Reports say declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” would establish Zika as a serious global threat and lead to money, resources and scientific expertise being thrown at the problem both in South America and in laboratories around the world.

The WHO’s actions are under intense scrutiny after its handling of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

Its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus were widely criticised and it was deemed to have been too slow to declare an emergency.

Zika Virus: Nigeria Issues Travel Restrictions To Latin America

MosquitoThe Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has issued a travel restriction to Latin America, especially by pregnant women until the Zika Virus outbreak situation improves.

In a statement by the Ministry on Friday, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, assured Nigerians that there was no case of the Zika Virus in the country.

The Minister, however, directed the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to include Zika Virus diagnosis as part of the ongoing efforts to manage Lassa fever outbreak.

The World Health Organization has raised a global alert because the disease has spread in Brazil and 22 countries in the Americas.

The Zika Virus disease is transmitted through the bite of a particular mosquito known as Aedes Aegypti with symptoms such as mild fever, rash, joint pain and red eye.

If the virus gets into a pregnant woman, it can cause birth defects in the unborn baby.

At the moment, there is no cure or vaccine for the virus.

Nigeria is currently trying to contain Lassa Fever that has claimed over 40 lives across the country, with the latest deaths occurring in Lagos and Ebonyi States.

The disease is an acute and often fatal viral disease, with fever and usually acquired from infected rats.