News / Health

    Zika Could Cause Spike In Illegal Abortions

    Patients participate in a Zika prevention talk as they wait to be attended to at the Women's National Hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador, Jan. 29, 2016.
    Patients participate in a Zika prevention talk as they wait to be attended to at the Women's National Hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador, Jan. 29, 2016.
    VOA News

    Doctors, public health experts and women's rights organizations are concerned that the strongly suspected link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a fetal deformity resulting in a shrunken head and a damaged brain, will cause women in the Americas to seek illegal abortions.

    Some countries in Latin America have opted to advise women to delay becoming pregnant, rather than make abortions more readily available.

    Poor women in these countries have little access to family planning and many cannot even afford to buy insect repellent to help avoid the mosquito-borne virus.

    The virus has mainly hit Brazil, a predominately Catholic country. Botched abortions in clandestine clinics are already a major cause of maternal death in Brazil.

    Infographic: Areas With Active Zika Virus Transmission
    Infographic: Areas With Active Zika Virus Transmission

    Daniel Becker, a pediatrician and a public health expert in Rio de Janeiro told Reuters, "Zika is a health catastrophe and a terrifying menace for pregnant women. People will look for an abortion."

    Emergency meeting

    The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting Monday to to decide whether the Zika threat should be rated a global health crisis.

    The link between Zika and microcephaly is strongly suspected but has not been definitively proven. The cause of the deformity is under investigation.

    In Brazil, the incidence of the normally rare birth defect is now 10 times higher than normal.

    There is no vaccine for Zika.

    "The real problem is that trying to develop a vaccine that would have to be tested on pregnant women is a practical and ethical nightmare," Mike Turner, head of infection and immunobiology at the Wellcome Trust, told The Guardian newspaper.

    The WHO, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pan American Health Organization warn the Zika virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas and could affect as many as 4 million people.

    Dr. Peter Hotez told the Examiner newspaper that the Zika outbreak in Brazil poses a "far greater threat to the United States than Ebola," A Zika outbreak has "never been seen on this scale," Hotez said, despite its prevalence in Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands.

    Zika is a viral illness spread from human to human through the bite of a mosquito.

    Virus carriers

    Two species of mosquito are known to carry the virus, the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito.

    Both species are found throughout most of the Americas.

    The Yellow Fever mosquito can be found along the Gulf Coast of the United States while the Asian Tiger mosquito can be found as far north as New York City.

    Health authorities in several Asian countries have advised travelers, particularly pregnant women, to avoid trips to Central and South America.

    A Colombian health worker gives travellers information on how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, at the main bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 31, 2016.
    A Colombian health worker gives travellers information on how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, at the main bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 31, 2016.

    Travel warning

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has warned pregnant women against traveling to areas with Zika virus outbreaks.

    The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and there are no vaccines to prevent the spread and no drugs to treat those affected.

    If you are traveling to countries where the Zika virus is found, take the following precautions:

    *Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

    *Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

    *Sleep under a mosquito bed net to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

    Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.  

    *Always follow the product label instructions.

    *Reapply insect repellent, as directed.

    *Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

    *If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.  

    If you have a baby or child:

    *Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months of age.

    *Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or

    *Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.  

    *Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, or cut/ irritated skin.

    *Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to child's face.

    Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    They have asked people coming or returning from those areas, who display symptoms such as fever and rashes to immediately report to health centers.  Doctors are also required to immediately report suspected cases.

    Faced with the Zika outbreak, the presidents of the United States and Brazil have agreed on "the importance of collaborative efforts" to combat its spread.

    Barack Obama and Dilma Rouseff recognize the significance of working together "to deepen our knowledge, advance research, and accelerate work to develop better vaccines and other technologies to control the virus," the White House said.

    In the meantime, Brazil has turned to a British company, Oxitec, for help. According to The New York Times, Brazil recently approved the release of multiple groups of genetically modified Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, created by Oxitec, throughout the country.  

    The idea behind the release of the mosquitos is for the mature modified males to mate with females.

    Their offspring who inherited the modified gene would die, causing the mosquito population to dwindle and, hopefully, lower the threat of the disease.

    The WHO says the virus has grown rapidly to a public-health threat of "alarming proportions."

    Julius Lutwana, a virologist at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, told VOA Zika was long thought to pose only a small risk to humans.

    Symptoms

    The WHO says people with the Zika virus have a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis (red eye), with symptoms lasting between two to seven days.  The best prevention against Zika virus, experts say, is protection against mosquito bites.

    Outbreaks in Brazil, which reported its first Zika case in 2015, and elsewhere in southern and Central America have led to extensive spraying of insecticides to eradicate mosquitoes.

    The WHO's regional office in the Americas said the most effective ways to stop the virus from spreading are to reduce mosquito breeding sites and for people to protect themselves from bites with insect repellent, nets, screens and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.

    WATCH: Related video on Zika virus

    Zika Threatens to Become Global Health Threati
    X
    Zlatica Hoke
    February 01, 2016 1:40 AM
    There are growing concerns that the Zika virus may become a threat to global health, as Ebola did in 2014 and 2015. The mosquito-borne virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas, and travelers have brought individual cases to other continents. Zika is especially dangerous to pregnant women because it may cause severe birth defects. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that authorities in Latin America are implementing measures to prevent an epidemic.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora