News Daily Spot: WHO sets Global Response Unit to coordinate action against zika

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WHO sets Global Response Unit to coordinate action against zika

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a Global Response Unit to coordinate the actions carried out regarding the Zika virus epidemic and its association with the sudden increase in cases of microcephaly and other neurological disorders.

This was announced at a press conference Antony Costello, microcephaly expert from WHO, who explained that this unit have quickly created "after the lessons learned during the crisis Ebola".

WHO has just established a health emergency of international concern on three previous occasions: polio, H1N1, and Ebola, but was widely criticized for having taken months to announce it to the latter disease that eventually killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

Costello returned to affect the fact that the emergency was declared by the cases of microcephaly and other malformations and no virus Zika itself, since it is a disease that in 75% of cases are asymptomatic and the rest has very mild effects.

"We can not ignore that there has been a sudden increase of microcephaly. Four thousand suspected cases are many for a condition that usually occurs in 1 in 3,000 births"

"We believe the partnership (between the virus and malformations) is guilty until proven his innocence ... We know that viral infections can cause microcephaly, that is why we have suspicions," he said.

Until now it found that if a pregnant woman is infected with rubella, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalo, some herpes, or by contact with toxins and heavy metals, or genetic conditions, the fetus can develop microcephaly.

Costello also said that there are very few cases where it has been proved the direct link: according to WHO estimates, only been detected 12 babies with microcephaly and whose mother was infected with the zika.

Brazil is investigating 4,200 cases of babies suffering suspected microcephaly, but only 270 actually has confirmed that children suffering from this malformation.

The problem lies essentially in the diagnosis, since the virus is only active in the body five days later can not be detected, which is very difficult to determine whether the woman has been exposed to infection or not.

"The woman could be exposed to the virus for months and can not know," he confessed the expert.

That's why both yesterday Costello as WHO Director-General Margaret Chan stressed the crucial importance of developing diagnostic tests that can determine with certainty and in a longer period of time the presence of zika.

Asked Costello on the laws of abortion and whether WHO will make a recommendation, declined to answer, but said that in most cases you can only set the condition once the baby is born because it is very difficult to determine intrauterine even in places where there are professional ultrasound.

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