#Article (Archive)

Zika virus epidemic ‘may spread in Africa and Asia’: study

Sep 7, 2016, 9:25 AM

(Tuesday September 6th, 2016 Issue)

It has been reported that “currently, over 65 countries and territories” around the world are “battling transmission of the Zika virus”.

The Zika virus, said to have recently reached Africa, risks spreading to many more countries in Africa and Asia from other parts of the world, such as Latin and South America.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization declared the virus —mainly spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito and sometimes sexual transmission — an international health emergency.

According to Medical Daily, a specialized media outlet on health issues, a new study has suggested that the two billion residents of the Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh could be particularly vulnerable to a Zika outbreak because of their limited health resources.

“The impact on populations will also depend heavily on the country’s ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak. Our findings could offer valuable information to support time-sensitive public health decision-making at local, national, and international levels,” Dr Kamran Khan, study author from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, told the BBC.

Zika experts have also stated that the virus’ risk of spreading is at its highest over the summer months when people are traveling between America and other parts of the world. “It’s no surprise that travel and trade will help spread the Zika virus around the world from Latin and South America.”

Warm temperatures also mean the Zika-carrying mosquitoes can survive longer. The virus, blamed for neurological disorders and birth abnormalities in Brazil, recently reached Africa.

“While this study reminds us that many parts of the world have ideal conditions for the virus to take hold it can’t pinpoint exactly where this will happen,” said Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham.

“This is a virus that has circulated for years in parts of Africa and Asia and so, many of these people may already have been exposed and have protective immunity.”

On Friday 2 September 2016, Singapore announced that its total Zika virus count is up to 189 in just one week.

We in The Gambia should, therefore, be vigilant and continue our watertight healthy security and safety measures to prevent the occurrence of any such diseases.  Our biweekly cleansing exercise must also be seen to be conducted properly to keep our environment always clean and free from harmful  insects as well as pathogens, which may cause us serious health hazard.

International health agencies authorities, such as the World Health Organisation, have stated that the viral infections of Zika typically occur in tropical climates, and at present, there is no treatment or cure for the virus.

“Zika is transmitted in a manner very similar to that of Malaria transmission; through mosquito bites”

Stephen Nelson