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Nigeria on alert as Zika cases hit 4 million in Americas by December



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Besides issuing travel alerts to Nigerians going to the southern American countries, the federal government says it’s monitoring and conducting epidemological investigations on the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which host and transmit Zika virus to humans.

According to the director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Prof. Abdulsalam Nasiru, there has been regular monitoring, and a meeting of stakeholders comprising experts on public health would be convened on Wednesday in Abuja.

Speaking on the Zika virus, Assistant Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Bruce Aylward, said about four million Zika infections are expected in the Americas over the next 12 months.

Principal Deputy Director of the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention, CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat also added that even though most people aren’t in any serious danger from Zika, the increasing lines of evidence suggest that some women infected with Zika during their pregnancies may go on to deliver a baby with a serious brain injury.

Since October, Brazil has recorded over 4,000 cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect that stunts the growth of a baby’s brain and head. Microcephaly has been linked to babies whose mothers had the virus while they were pregnant.

Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, convened an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, to ascertain whether the Zika virus outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

According to Chan, the level of alarm has been extremely high, and the world body is concerned about the rapidly evolving situation.

The only way to determine if someone had the illness was to wait to see if the disease’s distinctive symptoms appeared.

Some German researchers, however, claim they have developed a diagnostic test that can accurately detect the Zika virus in humans.

The biotechnological company, Genekam, says the technology can reveal the presence of Zika pathogens in a blood sample while giving the viral load in the patient’s blood.

The new test is said to be able to determine if a person is a carrier of the Zika virus, and renders diagnostic results in real time.

According to Sudhir Bhartia, one of the researchers, the test examines DNA and works with chemicals that react to the Zika virus only—similar pathogens like Dengue fever won’t show up in the results.