Zika virus declared public health emergency amid birth deformity fears

2 February 2016

Pregnant women have been cautioned about travelling to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks after a public health emergency was declared.

The World Health Organization has decided that the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern, due to the possible link between the virus and birth deformities.

In October 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported an unusual increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition characterised by a smaller-than-expected head and linked to abnormal brain development.

The increase in microcephaly has been linked to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak, leading the UK government to consider delaying travel to affected countries. Since the start of the outbreak in 2015, five UK travellers have been diagnosed with Zika virus.

However, it has also been noted that any public health risk to the wider population in England is minimal at most, as the mosquito that transmits the virus is not found in the UK.

Posted by Edward Bartel

 


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