Vietnam Faces New Infections, One Year After Zika Global Emergency

The mosquito borne virus known as Zika was declared to be an international public health emergency by the World health Organization (WHO) exactly one year ago.

But the number of global infections continues to rise despite the best efforts of health officials, even though according to a WHO statement in November, Zika is no longer classified as a crisis.

Over the period of the last one month however, a high number of outbreaks of the disease have been discovered at and reported from Vietnam in particular. A number of people have been infected and have contracted the disease late last year even though the first case was reported in April 2016 from the Southeast Asian nation. According to local media, with health officials warning on Dec. 21 that the city was averaging 10 cases per week, the majority are within Ho Chi Minh, home to around 145 cases in total.

A WHO spokesperson was quotd in the media as saying that the country faces the risk of endemic transmission, a situation where infections occur year-round, because the principal vector carrying Zika, the Aedes mosquito, is widespread in Vietnam.

The Zika fever is especially dangerous for pregnant women as it can cause birth defects and has resulted in deaths even though it has similar symptoms to dengue fever but is not typically regarded as life-threatening.

While the global scientists are still tirelessly working on a number of vaccines and preventive treatments, there is, as of now, no known treatment.

The local media said that after four new cases were reported from December to early January, local health authorities declared an outbreak within the Vinh Thanh commune on Jan. 9 as the the virus entered Vietnam’s rural areas, particularly the southern Dong Nai province last month.

“Data collection and analysis should be enhanced to monitor the geographical distribution and temporal trends of Zika virus transmission and related complications, especially the congenital virus syndrome Guillain-Barre,” the WHO said. Consequently, to strengthen the country’s preparedness and response capacity, it as working closely with the government, WHO added.

Apart from Vietnam, there are other countries too that are battling fresh outbursts of the disease this year.

Coming on the heels of a major yellow fever epidemic in the Southwest African nation, Angola reported its first two cases of the disease, last month. While one new contraction was reported in Texas last week, Stateside, Florida has announced four new incidents since the year began. Meanwhile, the country’s first case of microcephaly, a condition where heads of newborn babies are smaller than average, was declared by the Jamican authorities last month.

“Overall, the global risk assessment has not changed,” the WHO said in a January report, warning that vigilance worldwide must remain high.

(Adapted from CNBC)


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