Zika Virus Declared International ‘Public Health Emergency’
February 2, 2016
Characteristics of modern populations have led to an increased potential for disease impacts across a wide range of geographic scales. Therefore, the role of public health in emergency preparedness and response efforts has become crucial.
Amidst growing concern over the rapid spread of Zika virus across the Americas, and the suspected relationship between the virus and an observed increase in microcephaly and neurological disorders, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern.” Although reports indicate that there is still no established link between Zika virus and microcephaly, “there is enough concern to warrant immediate action,” and international organizations are ramping up activities to support national governments responding to the challenges posed by the spread of Zika virus.
The recent outbreak in the Americas was first reported in Brazil in May 2015, as of February 2, Zika virus has been detected in 25 countries.
Keeping in mind that Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, as well as shared environmental and social factors that promote transmission, exploring concurrent Dengue fever and Chikungunya outbreaks across the Americas may provide insight into where Zika virus is likely to spread.
PDC is continuing to closely monitor and provide decision support products and capabilities in response to the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus in the Americas.
In an effort to provide a comprehensive picture of emerging and current health threats, PDC’s DisasterAWARE platforms integrate biosurveillance information, serving as a single repository for the latest data coming in from leading health organizations. This supports easy visualization and integration of environmental and health data providing reliable and actionable information to disaster management and health professionals alike. If you are an emergency manager or public health professional and would like access to PDC’s DisasterAWARE (EMOPS) platform, click here for more information.
For more Zika virus information, click here.
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Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) envisions a safer, more secure world—where populations live in more disaster-resilient communities informed by science and technology, and equipped with sound decision support tools. To help make that vision a reality, PDC is dedicated to supporting evidence-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts by providing actionable information and applications to the public and disaster managers worldwide. PDC, a program managed by the University of Hawaii, was established by the U.S. government in 1996.