by Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online
An emerging disease known as the Zika virus, has placed Australia and Pacific Island nations on a high alert.
The mosquito-borne virus which is closely related to dengue is transmitted through virus-infected mosquit’s in the Aedes genus (black with white stripes in appearance) that are active during the day.
This virus, whose symptoms include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivit’s (red or sore eyes), muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache, is linked to severe birth defects and the Australian authorities have taken up preventable measures in Torres Strait’s remote northern region.
“We’ll monitor closely through the Torres Strait. We already do that with a number of infectious diseases,” Queensland State Health Minister, Cameron Dick, reported on Monday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a public health emergency of international concern on Monday, holding the first meeting to determine its response to the virus and also regarding cases of neurologic disorders and microcephaly – a birth defect that causes the head to be smaller than the average normal size usually associated with incomplete brain development, whereby the virus is believed to have played a role in these birth defects.
“There is great deal that remains unknown about the Zika virus, but the reports and suspected links to birth defects and neurological problems mean that this threat must be taken very seriously,” Papua New Guinean Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, said in a statement.
Zika infected mosquit’s are common in tropical and sub-tropical regions and the concern now for the Pacific nations is to focus on protecting people against mosquito bit’s as there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available; and eliminating mosquit’s, would seem an impossible task for many Pacific Islands who have been storing water due to the drought caused by El Nino that are unintentionally providing a breeding ground for the mosquitoes.
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