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Nov 18, 2016

W.H.O. Declares Zika “Global Emergency” Over

In health news, international reports say that the World Health Organization earlier today declared an end to its global health emergency over the spread of the Zika virus, prompting dismay from some public health experts still wrestling with the epidemic. An agency advisory committee said it ended the emergency — formally known as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — because Zika is now shown to be another dangerous mosquito-borne disease like malaria or yellow fever, and should be treated, like them, as an ongoing problem, not an exceptional situation. The infection has been linked to severe birth defects in almost thirty countries; these include microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development. The W.H.O. says more than two thousand cases of nervous-system malformations have been reported in Brazil alone. Although the virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes, it can also be sexually transmitted. Head of a W.H.O. emergency committee on the virus, Doctor David Heymann, said that Zika still poses a “significant and enduring” threat, and the Organization will now shift to a longer-term approach against the infection. The virus spread across Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond since May of 2015 when it was first reported in Brazil. Here in Belize, forty-six cases have been reported as of the end of September, with a further one hundred and twenty-eight suspected cases pending test results. Up to news time, we were unable to get a further update from Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero.

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