WHO: Zika virus ‘spreading explosively,’ level of alarm ‘extremely high’ - The Washington Post (washingtonpost.com)
The World Health Organization announced Thursday that it will convene an emergency meeting to try to find ways to stop the transmission of the Zika virus — which officials said is "spreading explosively" across the Americas. "The level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty. Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly, " Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said in Geneva during a briefing for member countries. The WHO said the pathogen, which was virtually unheard of in the region a year ago, is spreading so fast that it could infect as many as 3 million to 4 million people within 12 months. 

Chan said those numbers and the severity of the possible complications being reported -- from a brain abnormality called microcephaly in children to paralysis in adults -- make the situation dramatically different than what epidemiologists have seen with past outbreaks of the virus. [Why the United States is so vulnerable to the alarming spread of ZikaHealth officials said 24 countries and territories are affected by mosquitoes that are transmitting Zika locally. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States has 31 confirmed cases in 11 states and the District of Columbia. All are travel-related, said Lyle Petersen, director of CDC’s vector-borne disease division, and "this number is increasing rapidly." At least one involves a pregnant woman, New York City officials said Thursday. There also are 20 additional cases because of local transmission in U.S. territories — 19 in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


World Health Organization explains the Zika virus


As the Zika virus rapidly spreads to new countries, the World Health Organization provides answers to some of the most essential questions about the mosquito-born disease. (YouTube/World Health Organisation)In a separate briefing with reporters Thursday, U.S. officials said all states are now required to report Zika cases. As a result, they expect to see a sharp increase in cases involving a traveler infected while abroad who becomes symptomatic after returning home. 

But local outbreaks are unlikely here, officials said. Global health authorities have already been criticized for not moving quickly enough to call an emergency meeting on Zika. Some public health experts accused the WHO of failing to learn lessons from the Ebola epidemic of 2014, when the organization delayed sounding the alarm for months....continue reading...https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/01/28/zika-virus-who-announces-formation-...

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