WHO: Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan briefs Executive Board on Zika situation 28JAN2016
(Via Time.com) The World Health Organization declared the Zika crisis—a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects—an international public health emergency Monday, freeing money to fund international efforts to combat the disease.
The declaration, only the fourth in WHO’s history, comes just days after the organization said the total number of cases could hit 4 million by the end of the year. The virus has spread rapidly throughout the Americas infecting people in more than 20 countries. Officials in Brazil, the hardest hit country, have estimated 1.5 million infections. WHO was criticized for waiting months after an Ebola outbreak hit West Africa to declare an international public health emergency in 2014.
The virus, first discovered in 1957, was thought to be harmless for decades. But in recent months the virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes children to be born with brain damage and shrunken heads.
Countries across North and South America have taken precautions to stem the spread for the virus. El Salvador called on women in the country to hold off on pregnancy for two years. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel warnings for much of Latin America telling pregnant women to avoid the area.