By Benjamin Flowers
The World Health Organization (WHO), this week, declared the Zika virus outbreak a global health emergency.
The WHO decided to sound the alarm on Monday, after experts met to examine the patters observed in the way the virus has been spreading.
Countries such as Brazil, have already declared a state of emergency because of the virus’ link to microcephaly, a neurological disorder that causes babies to be born with abnormally small brains.
WHO Director Deneral, Dr. Margaret Chan, following the meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee said: “The evidence is growing and it’s getting strong. So I accepted, even on microcephaly alone, that it is sufficient to call an emergency.”
Following the declaration, health officials in the United States reported that Zika can be sexually transmitted. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explained that the patient diagnosed with Zika had not left the United states but the person’s partner had recently returned from Venezuela. The CDC said it will be preparing guidelines on avoiding sexual transmission of Zika soon.
Countries all over the world are beginning education campaigns for citizens targeting specifically women, and pregnant women. Some countries, the BBC reports, have asked women to consider not getting pregnant at this time.
The Zika virus, carried by the aedes egypti mosquito, has been linked to over 4000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil last year. Since then, countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean have been confirming cases.
Countries such as: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Paraguay, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela, have all confirmed cases.
The virus carries symptoms similar to dengue, including: joint pain, rash and fever. The WHO said despite the global health emergency, it does not advise any restriction on travel or trade.
The airline industry, however, began offering refunds last week to pregnant passengers bound for location with have confirmed cases of Zika.