Zika Virus ‘Spreading Explosively’ in Americas

Just in case you missed this story last week, a rather worrisome situation is developing at an alarming pace:

The World Health Organization rang a global alarm over the Zika virus on Thursday, saying that the disease was “spreading explosively” in the Americas and that as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year.

The global health agency will convene a special meeting on Monday to decide whether to declare a public health emergency. It is moving swiftly to combat this outbreak after widespread criticism that it had allowed the last major global health crisis, Ebola, to fester without a coordinated, effective strategy.

Since last spring, more than 20 countries have reported locally acquired cases of Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and may cause birth defects.

“The level of alarm is extremely high,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O., in a speech in Geneva.

The focus of concern is the growing number of cases of microcephaly, a rare condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and damaged brains. Reports of babies born with microcephaly have been rising sharply in Brazil as Zika spreads

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