Zika virus continues to spread

Honduras declares state of national emergency, saying number of Zika infections reach 'alarming rate', while Australia reports two cases of Zika virus

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Mothers with their children, who have microcephaly, await medical care at the Hospital Oswaldo Cruz, in Recife, Brazil, January 26, 2016.

The Zika virus continues to spread as Australia reported two cases and Honduras declared state of emergency.

Two Australians were diagnosed with the Zika virus after returning home from the Caribbean, a state health service said on Tuesday, confirming the first cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the country this year.

Officials also said that mosquitos carrying the virus had been detected at Sydney International Airport, but stressed that it was unlikely the virus would establish local transmission given the lack of large numbers of the Aedes Aegypti mosquitos.

Confirmation of the Australian cases came just a day after the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus to be an international public health emergency due to its link to underdeveloped brains in some babies. There is no vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus.

The New South Wales (NSW) health department said the two Sydney residents were diagnosed with the Zika virus on Friday after returning to Australia from Haiti.

The government of Honduras has declared a state of national emergency, one day after WHO’s declaration of global public health emergency, saying it has recorded 3,649 suspected cases of the Zika virus infections in less than three months.

According to Health Minister Yolani Batres’s statement, since the first case of the mosquito-borne virus was detected on December 16, there have been 3,649 cases of people infected with the virus.

Also, officials said that the number of people infected by the Zika virus tripled in the past three days.

The World Health Organisation on Monday declared that the mosquito-borne Zika virus to be recognised as a "public health emergency of international concern," as the disease is linked to thousands of birth defects and is spreading rapidly.

Zika is an infectious virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which causes brain damage and physical development problems in new born babies, resulting in the formation of unusually small heads. The virus was not a crisis in Brazil until this year, when health experts linked it to a surge in microcephaly cases.

However, the Health Minister of Honduras, Yolani Batres, did not mention any cases of infants born with microcephaly or abnormally small heads, as reported in new born infants and expecting mothers in Brazil who had contracted the Zika virus.

One elderly person may have died of Zika, but officials said this case is still unclear.

"The number of people affected is rising each day in an alarming way," Batres said at the press conference

According to estimates, nearly 80 percent of infected people have no symptoms of the virus. It is also difficult to diagnose pregnant women whether they are infected with the virus or not.

Reuters, TRTWorld and agencies