Zika set to infect 4 million this year

  • By Vic Glass

The WHO has formally predicted 4’000’000 new Zika virus cases in 2016 across the Americas

Four million people are expected to be infected with the Zika virus (Read More…) in the Americas this year according to the World Health Organization’s formal predictions.

Most will not develop symptoms, but the virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been linked to brain defects and cranial deformities in babies.

Meanwhile, the US says it hopes to begin human vaccine trials by the end of 2016, although many fear that it may take up to ten years to develop an effective and commercially viable vaccine.

The head of the International Olympic Committee says steps are being taken to protect the Games in Rio de Janeiro. These steps include the use of around quarter of a million military personnel to go door to door advising on contamination prevention techniques and the use of selective fumigation in and around the Olympic area.  The IOC is expected to release official advise this week on how to reduce the risk of contracting Zika when travelling to Brazil for the games.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said Zika had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”.

The WHO’s emergency comity will meet on Monday to decide whether Zika should be treated as a global emergency, it is highly expected that it will indeed be classified as a Global emergency. Many have criticised aid agencies for not taking the virus seriously until it threatened to spread over the US boarder from Mexico. Likewise Brazilian authorities have been criticised for putting the interests of the ‘potential’ future tourists coming to see the Olympics over those of local citizens.

The last time an international emergency was declared was for the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed more than 11’000 people.


 

V.Glass@theinternational.org.uk