WHO issues a global alert against Zika virus

Category: Antiviral

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an epidemiological alert against Zika virus in the relation with the increase of newborns with microcephaly. The statement recommends that the 140 member countries implement their strategies for controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquito (tiger mosquito), which transmits the virus, and is the same carrier of dengue.

According to the report, until last Tuesday, nine countries had confirmed the presence of Zika: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela. Arriving in Brazil at the beginning of this year, the authorities did not give much importance to this virus because their symptoms did not seem so serious, such as low fever, itching and red spots on the body. However, the Brazilian Ministry of Health has confirmed the relationship with the epidemic cases of microcephaly in the country, which already reach 1,248 this year alone.

Ten months with Zika

The Zika virus arrived in Brazil in March this year, but since October the number of newborns with microcephaly diagnosed increased dramatically. Five years ago, five cases were recorded in 100,000 births. Now – nearly 100. It has been difficult to relate the Zika virus with microcephaly because this infectious disease has other causes and there was not been earlier stories about Zika relationship with a birth defect.

Microcephaly is characterized by lower than normal head circumference of 33 centimeters between newborns, which prevents the development of the nervous system by reducing the brain tissue. The microcephaly can cause cognitive and motor impairment. Zika is suspected that crosses the placenta and feeds the amniotic fluid where the fetus grows, affecting your brain training.

WHO calls for countries to prepare health services to a potential additional demand at all levels of health care and a higher demand for specialized services to care for neurological syndromes. Also, it asks for special attention to pregnant women and to strengthen consultation activities and prenatal care. So far, the Brazilian Ministry of Health suspects that the risk is associated with the first three months of pregnancy.

The WHO document also points to three deaths recorded by Zika (two adults and a newborn) as factors that led to issuing the alert. This virus may have contributed to the worsening of the cases and deaths. It is the first relation of Zika with death.

Brazil now begins the summer season when there is more rain and mosquito Aedes aegypti has more space to develop. You have to race against time to discover more about this relation and thus get combat missing a lot of information.

Representatives of the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control come to Brazil this week to assist in the investigation of the relationship between the virus and microcephaly. Among the measures they recommended to prevent contact with mosquitoes, WHO emphasizes the use of mosquito nets, clothing that covers extremities and using repellents.


Brazil has struggled to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito, primarily for the transmission of dengue, which continues with great force and rised in recent years. The number of deaths due to dengue in the first eight months of 2015 amounted to 693 cases, ie, an increase of 70% over the same period last year.

The tropical mosquito usually occurs in places where there is standing water, which was very common the last year, especially the drought in Brazil that has led people to save water in homes.