The World Health Organization (WHO) has abolished the global health crisis caused by the Zika epidemic. However, the spread of the virus to more than 30 countries is still a serious problem and the fight requires continued international efforts, declared the chairman of the WHO emergency committee, David Heymann, on Friday evening in Geneva.
Earlier, WHO’s virus experts had discussed the Zika situation in an international telephone conference. The decision of the UN Specialist Organization on the lifting of the global emergency called nine months ago was made on the recommendation of the experts.
Even if the spread of the virus has slowed, the dangers should not be underestimated, the experts said. A number of problems related to Zika are still largely unexplained, the WHO Department Director for Emergency Programs Peter Salama said. The further intensive investigation of the virus is therefore absolutely necessary.
More puzzles about skull formation in newborns
Open questions include the specific triggers for craniofacial microcephaly in embryos of pregnant women infected with Zika. From many countries such problems had been reported in newborns. In Brazil alone, there have been more than 2000 such cases.
David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical said that Zika remains a “significant and long-lasting” threat to health, despite the lifting of the global emergency. Zika is spread mainly by mosquitoes. According to the WHO, the pathogen can also be transmitted for a long time after an infection by seminal fluid during sex. Symptoms of the disease, which in most cases are mild, resemble those of a flu.