Zika virus keeps spreading with great speed further in Latin America. Yesterday already 18 cases were confirmed positive in Puerto Rico. Now Norway wants World Health Organization to hold an emergency meeting in order to beat the unknown and dangerous virus, writes VG.
Zika virus is already registered in 21 countries in South and North America and the Caribbean, according to WHO. The virus is believed to cause the children being born with mikrocephaly, or underdeveloped brain, if the mother is infected while being pregnant.
– WHO should decide whether the epidemic desease of Zika is to be considered as global public health crisis, a definition that requires meeting several criteria, told VG John-Arne Røttingen, infection control director from Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI). The number of cases of this desease is much greater than usual, according to Røttingen, and it has the potential to cause a major impact on public health.
If Zika virus desease gets such a definition, the World Health Organization (WHO) will recommend a number of measures that countries need to undertake in order to act in accordance with the International Health Regulations.
– It will also attract greater attention to vaccine development, adds Røttingen to NTB.
Nobody yet knows neither how to cure this desease nor the possible impact of it.
– The visible damage, caused by Zika, is possibly just the tip of the iceberg. There may be many neurological consequences, but it is too early to say anything about it, comments Røttingen.
Due to the dangerous consequences this virus seems to cause, several Latin American countries warned their citizens not to get pregnant in the course of at least two years, until the virus is defeated. Among them El Salvador, Jamaica, Ecuador and Colombia.
In Brazil, the authorities have registered over one million cases of Zika fever and believe that the virus has led to at least 4,000 newborns have received brain injuries. The authorities have declared the outbreak as a national emergency, and the government is working feverishly to gain control of the desease before the start of the Olympics in August.
Since this virus is being transmitted by mosqitoes that do not exist in this country, there is no epidemic danger for Norway. But there is always a high risk of international spread with the help of business and traveling.
There is only one case report of Zika fever in Norway. It was a Norwegian tourist who had stayed in Tahiti during the eruption in 2014. FHI fears it may be more, and therefore ask pregnant women to postpone the trip to the affected areas – and those who still travel to be cautious.
US infection control authorities (CDC) warns people against traveling to these Zika fever-affected countries and areas: