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posted by martyb on Saturday January 30 2016, @09:51AM   Printer-friendly

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects, is spreading, and the World Health Organization will convene an emergency session on Monday to deal with the problem:

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that it would 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, the director-general of the WHO, said in a briefing to member countries in Geneva.

Chan said that the situation today is dramatically different than last year because of the surge in the number of cases and the severity of the symptoms and that "the level of alarm is extremely high."

Health officials said the number of countries impacted by mosquitoes that are spreading the virus locally is now up to 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States now has 31 laboratory confirmed cases in 11 states and the District of Columbia. All are travel-related, the CDC's Lyle Petersen said, and "this number is increasing rapidly." The country also has 20 additional cases because of local transmission in U.S. territories — 19 in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Alternately at The Guardian. Some believe that South American countries will loosen abortion restrictions in response to the virus. For example, Brazil's Supreme Federal Court ruled in 2012 that abortion was legal in cases when a fetus develops anencephaly (no brain). The Zika virus in Brazil is being linked to a 20x increase in microcephaly (abnormally small brain) prevalence, which is not always fatal.


Original Submission

Related Stories

El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears 12 comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a travel alert for 14 nations affected by the mosquito-borne Zika virus. One of those nations, El Salvador, is recommending against pregnancy due to a risk of birth defects suspected to be caused by the virus:

The entire region has erupted with concern over the virus, and each country has taken measures to combat its spread. Other Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Ecuador, as well as Jamaica in the Caribbean, have recommended delaying pregnancies, though not for an entire two years.

The rest of Latin America has responded with different tactics, ranging from widespread fumigation efforts to directing citizens not to be bitten by the Aedes mosquito, which is known to carry yellow, chikungunya and dengue fevers.

So far, the hardest hit nation in the region has been Brazil, where more than a million cases have been confirmed, including nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly in newborns that could be linked to Zika. Microcephaly is a rare, incurable condition in which an infant's head is abnormally small.

Brazil has announced its plans to control the Zika virus while continuing to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro:

Inspections of Olympic facilities will begin four months before the Games to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds. Daily sweeps will also take place during the Games. But fumigation would only be an option on a case-by-case basis because of concerns for the health of the athletes and visitors.

The Brazilian health ministry says it is also banking on the fact that the Games are taking place in the cooler, drier month of August when mosquitoes are far less evident and there are considerably fewer cases of mosquito-borne viruses.

The World Health Organization warns that Zika is likely to spread across all of the Americas.

Related: Genetically-Modified Mosquito Company Expands Operations


Original Submission

Two Billion People Live in Areas at Risk of Zika Virus Spread 17 comments

New research has found that over 2 billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread via mosquitoes:

More than two billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread, detailed maps published in the journal eLife show. The Zika virus, which is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, triggered a global health emergency this year. Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus causes severe birth defects.

The latest research showed mapping Zika was more complex than simply defining where the mosquito can survive. One of the researchers, Dr Oliver Brady from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: "These are the first maps to come out that really use the data we have for Zika - earlier maps were based on Zika being like dengue or chikungunya. "We are the first to add the very precise geographic and environmental conditions data we have on Zika." By learning where Zika could thrive the researchers could then predict where else may be affected. The researchers confirmed that large areas of South America, the focus of the current outbreak, are susceptible.

To put that in perspective, a recent estimate states: "The world population (the total number of living humans on Earth) was 7.349 billion as of July 1, 2015 according to the medium fertility estimate by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. "

Related:
El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears
World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus
WHO Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency
First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported, Likely via Sex Rather than Mosquito Bite
Maybe “It’s Not the Zika Virus”
Pope Francis's Plane Reports Laser Incident
Zika Virus and Birth Defects


Original Submission

WHO Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency 17 comments

The World Health Organization (WHO) is intensifying efforts to investigate the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is believed to cause microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small brains):

The World Health Organization has declared the cluster of microcephaly associated with the spread of the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern — a designation reserved for an"extraordinary event" that is "serious, unusual or unexpected." Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said during a press briefing Monday that an international coordinated response was needed to improve mosquito control as well as to expedite the development of tests that detect the Zika virus.

The declaration is chiefly important to intensify the efforts to prove that the Zika virus is causing microcephaly in infants. Essentially, Chan said, if the Zika virus was not thought to be causing these neurological problems in newborns, it would not be a "clinically serious condition." Dr. David L. Heymann, assistant director-general of the WHO, said that it was unclear how long it would take to definitively link the Zika virus to microcephaly in children.

Brazil's Health Minister says that the Zika outbreak is worse than believed because most of the infected show no symptoms.

Here is another article taking down a conspiracy theory that claims that the Zika outbreak is the result of genetically modified mosquitoes and intended for population control.

The New York Times , Wikipedia.

Previously: World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus


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  • (Score: 0, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:08AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:08AM (#296960)

    20x increase over what? That could mean 5 people instead of 4.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:41AM (#296964)
      20x not 20%.

      And that's probably when not everyone is infected.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by bradley13 on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:44AM

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:44AM (#296967) Homepage Journal

      That's 20 time increase, not a 20% increase. A quick google shows that microcephaly normally occurs at rates between 0.01% and 0.1% of births, depending on where you are. So a 20% increase would mean 0.2% to 2% of births. What is frankly worse: this is not a fatal birth defect: the brain stem is fine, but the rest of the brain has failed to develop properly.

      So you have the potential of around 1 in 100 kids requiring total care for their entire lives. That's a massive.

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Saturday January 30 2016, @01:06PM

      by isostatic (365) on Saturday January 30 2016, @01:06PM (#296986) Journal

      Where's that "Score: -1 complete idiot" mod when you need it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @05:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @05:11PM (#297053)

        My bad.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by esperto123 on Saturday January 30 2016, @01:48PM

      by esperto123 (4303) on Saturday January 30 2016, @01:48PM (#296992)

      brazilian here, they estimate at around 3500 babies have born with microcephaly, caused by zika, since the virus entered the country, one third of them in a single state (Pernambuco).

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:14AM (#296961)

    1. Linux is best.
    2. BitTorrent is great.
    3. SystemD is shit.
    4. Everything goes into the GitHub.

    See, Soylent readers don't even need brains, to repeat the same old tripe over and over and over.

  • (Score: 2) by SanityCheck on Saturday January 30 2016, @06:44PM

    by SanityCheck (5190) on Saturday January 30 2016, @06:44PM (#297097)

    I find Zika scarier than Ebola.

    And the irony really hits that most of the affected countries are entirely anti-abortion. I will love to here the "pro-life" idiots defend their stance in face of a massive amount of retard babies who suffer their entire life or die way prematurely. (And yes I do realize unfortunately it is almost impossible to tell ahead of time if the baby will have this abnormality, but I expect a test developed way before a vaccine or cure)

  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @06:57PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @06:57PM (#297105)

    >>Some believe that South American countries will loosen abortion restrictions in response to the virus.

    A chance to kill more babies? Finally, things are looking up for us Liberals!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @07:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @07:50PM (#297130)

    This is how the New World Order is depopulating the planet. They must have planned it for quite some time. With this virus, only the poor and semi-poor will stop having babies and depopulation will result. The rich and those who consider themselves masters of the planet will not be affected (as usual).

    Or maybe this is just a test to see how the world behaves to their children being murdered or never born. If the reaction is not strong enough, they will continue with their next step of reducing the world population by 90%, getting to keep all for themselves so they can rape and pillage the planet some more and go on vacations in countries with just a handful of local servants and slaves.

    They have seen what shortage of food can do to people: they get very angry and start emigrating to places with abundance of food. The idea is to keep these poor slaves in their own countries but without having any more children. When these slaves die, the place will be empty and forests and wildlife will take over, making the place a perfect vacation spot.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @08:59PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @08:59PM (#297164)

      Do you support the depopulation?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @09:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @09:50PM (#297175)

        People in-the-know are saying that the mosquito carrying the Zika virus was genetically engineered. So there you have it, the NWO has started the next step in total world domination.

        Do you support the depopulation?

        I do not support forced depopulation as is being done now. However, I do support complete depopulation of the parasitic race.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:32PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:32PM (#297221) Journal

          People in-the-know are saying that the mosquito carrying the Zika virus was genetically engineered.

          You don't need that. Just ship tires in the open from Africa to the Western Hemisphere some time in the last century and you have your mosquitoes. The primary requirement is for the virus to settle into an animal or human population as a reservoir. Mosquitoes are only a means of transmission. You need something that the mosquitoes can easily get at to hold the disease.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @10:17PM (#297186)

      Moron. The 1% requires the 99% to support them. You think they're going to mow their own lawns? But small-brained underlings... that could be useful to them...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:51PM (#297227)

        They want to replace the 99% with mostly robots.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 30 2016, @11:54PM (#297228)

        Here is a robot that mows lawns. [amazon.com]