Following the international public health emergency declared on Monday by the World Health Organization on the Zika virus it is of importance to highlight some pertinent facts about the said virus.  With the World Health declaration, it signalled the seriousness of the outbreak and the need to combat the disease.

Zika virus was discovered first in 1947 in Uganda. It lived mostly in monkeys for years. It major means of transmission is by mosquitoes. Costello said that the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus "are present ... through Africa, parts of southern Europe and many parts of Asia, particularly South Asia.”.  Aedes mosquitoes can also transmit dengue. Scientists in north Queensland have been working on a program to stop the transmission of dengue.

Zika Virus was reported also to be transmitted through sexual activity.  Zika virus transmission through sex was first reported in the United States in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials. The report said that the virus was likely to have been contracted through sex and not through a mosquito bite. This report came in a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency on the virus. The county department twitted that the person was infected through sexual relationship with someone who had travelled to Venezuela. The county health officials said that the infected person had not gone to the South American country.  In a statement, the Texas Department of State Health Services said, "Case details are being evaluated, but the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected person to a non-infected person is likely in this case."

However,   the Pan American Health Organization insisted that a single report wasn’t enough to confirm that Zika virus transmits through the means of a sexual contact. Nevertheless, a medical literature also has one case in which the virus was detected in semen.

An outbreak of the Zika virus, mainly transmitted by mosquitoes, was identified in Brazil in May.  It had since then known to had moved into more than 20 countries in Latin America.  Costa Rica and Jamaica were newly added as among the countries cases were reported of the virus. The W.H.O. has estimated that about four million people could contract the virus by the end of the year.  

Growing evidence suggests that there is a link between neurological syndromes and congenital anomalies in newly born children. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said on Monday that it was "strongly suspected but not yet scientifically proven" that Zika causes neurological syndromes and congenital anomalies popular known as microcephaly. Because of the quick spreading of the disease, some Latin American governments, including Colombia and El Salvador, advised that women shouldn’t get pregnant until 2018.

French drugmaker Sanofi SA on Tuesday announced that it has launched a project to develop a vaccine against the virus. Other companies are following suite.

Brazil, which at present has 3,700 suspected cases of microcephaly which was traced to have be caused by Zika, is scheduled to host the Olympics in August. Because of this, some health experts inferred that the W.H.O.’s emergency health declaration was more about politics than medicine. “I think there was a political overtone,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “If it were my daughter and she was pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, I would absolutely warn her off of going to a Zika-affected country, and the W.H.O. should have said that.” Brazil is preparing to host the Olympics this summer, and any ban on travel, even just for pregnant women, would deliver a serious blow to the Brazilian government.














Published by Ezeiyoke Peter