Zika Virus Has Potential To Go Pandemic, Scientists Warn

photo credit: Mosquito control measures need to be employed to curb Zika spread. mrfiza/Shutterstock

News of the Zika virus epidemic is popping up left, right, and center, and for good reason. Since this pathogen first reared its ugly head in Brazil last year, infections have been reported in 21 countries across the Americas and the Caribbean, and it’s not anticipated to stop there. Scientists have now warned that this virus has “explosive pandemic potential,” and are calling upon the World Health Organization (WHO) to step up its game and take the lead.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers say we need to learn from the tough lesson that has been the latest and worst-ever Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people. They criticize the WHO for their indecisiveness and delayed action, a failure they say could arguably be held accountable for the loss of thousands of lives.

Although not an infectious disease like Ebola, Zika virus is spread by Aedes aegyptimosquitoes, the same that can transmit dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Now found across the globe in tropical and subtropical areas, including the U.S., Zika has the potential to spread far and wide, and is predicted to infect up to 4 million people in the Americas this year. Although the paper pointed out that an emergency committee meeting had yet to be organized by the WHO, the BBC has now reported that an emergency team has been assembled to discuss the situation on Monday

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