The Zika virus is continuing to draw more curiosity, concern and questions with the World Health Organization (WHO) recently revealing that sexual transmission of the virus is more widespread than previously assumed.
A recent meeting of the world’s biggest health agency’s emergency committee revealed that there is increasing evidence linking neurological disorders and alarming birth defects to Zika virus. WHO, however, maintains that the causes of the aforementioned disorders being linked to Zika are only circumstantial. It is scientifically proven that Zika virus is mostly spread by mosquito bites of the Aedes genus (A. aegypti and A. albopictus).
Mosquito is certainly still the main transmitting agent
According to WHO’s Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, research and reports tabled so far from various nations strongly indicate that the transmission of the virus via sexual intercourse is more prevalent than earlier given assumptions. Currently, the United States is looking into a number of possible sexually transmitted cases of Zika.
Still in doubt over the sexual transmission, Dr. Bruce Aylward still ascertains that mosquitoes are unquestionably the main transmission factor of this Zika virus. Aylward is in charge of the agency’s response unit to the virus. Further reports from nine different nations have also disclosed the rising number of Guillain-Barre syndrome cases. This rare condition has also been linked to Zika virus and may cause paralysis and even death irrespective of age.
Virus now spreading to newer nations
Chan says that the virus is now spreading to newer countries with 31 nations across the Caribbean and Latin America reporting local transmissions. Further, the virus infection is not only reported in women capable of having babies, but across people of all ages.
As at now, there is no sufficient evidence linking Zika to birth defects and neurological disorders. As such, researchers and relevant authorities should not wait for long to make appropriate recommendations. In this line, WHO has called for thorough investigations into relationships between new-born babies with microcephaly and other neurological issues. The genetics of the virus should be studied in detail to determine possible relationships and provide probable solutions.
Dr. Bruce suggests the investigation of other possible factors that might be responsible for the increasing cases of birth defects (microcephaly in particular) and other neurological disorders. Scientists should broaden up their research other than factoring in on particular diseases only.
Microcephaly cases in new-born babies that are Zika-linked have so far only been reported in French Polynesia and Brazil. Other countries, however, are expected to report such cases in the coming times. WHO advises pregnant women to avoid visiting Zika-stricken areas. Partners to these women are also advised not to engage in sex during pregnancy period so as to avoid possible sexual transmission of the virus.