Zika virus no longer public health concern, says WHO

Out of the total cases, 35 people believed to acquire the virus through sexual transmission.

The Florida Department of Health has lifted part of the Zika Zone in Miami Beach, Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday.

Pregnant women are still advised not to travel to areas with active Zika transmission in order to avoid contracting the virus and potentially causing birth defects in their unborn children.

Earlier this year, the WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), based on the advice of 18 experts who analyzed the link between the presence of the virus and a rise in neurological complications. They warned the virus, which has been found in 60 countries since the outbreak was identified previous year in Brazil, will continue to spread where mosquitoes that carry the virus are present. The virus is transmitted by infected Aedes species of mosquitoes and can cause severe brain defects to unborn babies, including microcephaly.

The lesson, said the CDC report, was that any infant exposed to the Zika virus during the mother's pregnancy should have neurological imaging done to check for underlying brain abnormality - even if the head size appears to be normal. In a Miami Beach press conference, he said, "Until we have a vaccine, this is going to be something we're going to deal with"."We're going to be active, and we've learned a lot", the Governor added.

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Although these babies all tested positive for Zika exposure in the womb, abnormal head growth wasn't detected until at least 5 months of age, according to the report.

"This underscores that the Zika crisis is far from over as it has now been classified as a risky, mosquito borne disease similar to malaria or yellow fever and should be viewed as an ongoing threat", the Ministry of Health said in the statement.

"Microcephaly might not be evident at birth but can develop after birth in infants with underlying brain abnormalities". The WHO has said that scaling back the PHEIC allows a shift to a long-term response backed by more sustained funding.

However, both Argentina and Guadeloupe saw new cases of microcephaly and other central nervous system (CNS) malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection for the first time in the week before the report was published.

  • Myrtle Hill