Why the Zika Virus is on WHO’s Hit List


The Zika virus came into the limelight after the outbreak in recent years, which ultimately turned into a pandemic. Although the viral infection itself is seemingly harmless, almost as simple as when a person suffers from the flu, the consequences can be disastrous for fetuses and infants.

The vector for the Zika is the Aedes mosquitoes and it can also be sexually transmitted. This day-time biting mosquito is the same one responsible for the spread of dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and Japanese encephalopathy. The Zika virus belongs to the same group of viruses that are responsible for the aforementioned diseases. Although there are vaccines available for this group of viruses, specific vaccines for Zika virus is still in development and is in the last stage of testing as of February 2016.

Just like most other viral infections, Zika virus infection causes a severe rash, fever, headaches, malaise, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms are not severe and are quite easy to treat in adults. While these all make Zika seem harmless, there is more to the story.

For instance, in an infected pregnant woman this virus can pass through the placenta to the developing fetus. The virus has the capability to make the fetus’s own immune system attack the developing nervous system. This is not as severe in adults as they already have a fully developed nervous system.

The development of the central nervous system of the fetus is hampered and the baby is born with micro encephalopathy, where the head of the child is much smaller compared to the body. The brain of the infant is underdeveloped and there may also be some other sensory disabilities.

The Zika virus is a massive threat to the health and growth of the next generation of humans. To a large extent, the survival of our species is at stake, which is what made Zika virus one of the primary concerns of WHO.

World Health Organization, or abbreviated to WHO, is known for calling the shots when it comes to large-scale epidemics and emergencies regarding global public health. The fact that WHO is putting Zika in such a limelight proves just how much of a threat this virus really is.

Moreover, this is a one-sided battle as of now. Even after about a year of the discovery of this vile disease, WHO, along with other international health organizations, are still in a bind as to how the situation can be controlled. Experts working for WHO has even stated that they haven’t seen a situation this bad since the 2014 Ebola outbreak in eastern Africa.

WHO’s director general, Margaret Chan, directly commented on the matter by saying the level of alarm is extremely high. Rightly so, since a little over 1 million people in Brazil has already been affected by Zika. The United States is trying to take the charge and sending soldiers to inform the general populace about this disease. In many regions, women have been asked to not get pregnant at least for 2 more years.

The Zika virus is not only potent, but it is difficult to spot. The symptoms are extremely mild and initial signs include nothing more than headaches or reddened eyes. The truth of the matter is people don’t know they have Zika until it’s too late. Thus, it is absolutely recommended to visit the nearest physician to get yourself checked for Zika; especially if you live in the affected areas.

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