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Health experts fear Zika virus could spread to Africa, Asia


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the mosquito-borne Zika virus could spread to Africa and Asia.

At the launch of a global response unit against the virus, the UN agency launched a global response unit against the virus and says the illness is “spreading explosively.” “The problem is that the complications of this relatively mild illness do have potentially devastating effects for families. To have a child with microcephaly and to have a tenfold increase in numbers and the potential for spread not just across Latin America but into Africa, into Asia which have the highest birth rates in the world, we believe is a matter of public health concern and constitutes an international emergency,” said Dr Anthony Costello, WHO expert.

The WHO declared the virus an international public health emergency due to its link to thousands of birth defects in Brazil.

On Monday, the south American country said the virus outbreak is proving to be worse than believed because most cases show no symptoms, but improved testing should allow the country to get a better grip on the burgeoning public health crisis.

The Pan American Health Organization said Zika was now spreading in 26 countries and territories in the Americas.

The WHO office for Southeast Asia, issued a statement urging countries in the region to “strengthen surveillance and take preventive measures against the Zika virus disease which is strongly suspected to have a causal relation with clusters of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities.”