Zika virus findings ‘alarming’: WHO

Dr. Margaret Chan
Dr. Margaret Chan

The World Health Organization (WHO) now says investigation of sexual transmission of the Zika virus resulted in “alarming” findings.
Meanwhile, Google engineers are working with UNICEF in the Zika fight after the internet search engine donated $1 million to the cause.
And yesterday, WHO said that work continues on a vaccine but human trials are several months away.
Sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than previously thought, WHO said, adding the virus continues in Canada and the Caribbean and is a global emergency.
WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, said “reports and investigations in several countries strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed.”
She called that development “alarming.”
After an emergency committee meeting Tuesday, the UN health agency also said there is increasing evidence of links between Zika and various birth defects.
President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim said on Tuesday the outbreak of Zika demonstrates that women’s needs and health protection should be a priority on both global and national levels.
He said that fact women in rural areas live in poverty without adequate access to sanitation, health information and other services puts both a mother and child at risk amid the virus spread.
With some three-million Canadians expected to travel to Zika-affected countries in 2016, the number of infected people is expected to increase.
So far, there are 20 Canadians, including a pregnant woman, who have tested positive for Zika, Canada’s public health officer told a Commons committee last Monday. However, Canadians are being encouraged not to worry as most have no or very mild symptoms.
“We are aware of one (pregnant woman) in Canada at this time. There may be more but we’re not aware of that,” Dr. Gregory Taylo told the standing committee.
All 20 contracted the virus while visiting countries with outbreaks. There are no known instances of Canadians being infected while in Canada. The Public Health Agency has told women to wait two months before getting pregnant after visiting Zika-affected countries.
Google said last Thursday they donated $1 million to UNICEF for the fight against Zika and half-dozen of its engineers are working to help Brazil track the virus and the mosquito that spreads it by doing one thing the search engine giant does best: write algorithms. The goal is a system that combines several types of data to help predict where the Aedes aegypti mosquito might next be particularly active, helping eradication efforts.
Caribbean Camera readers may also financially support the fight against Zika by donating at Gofundme.com/xtmy5drn.