(NEW YORK TIMES) The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency on Monday, a rare move prompted by growing concern that it could cause birth defects.
The outbreak of Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, began in Brazil last May and has since moved into more than 20 countries in Latin America. The main worry is over the virus’s possible link to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with brain damage and unusually small heads. Reported cases of microcephaly are rising sharply in Brazil, ground zero for the disease, though researchers have yet to establish a direct link.
At a news conference in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O, said that clusters of microcephaly in regions with Zika cases “constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world.”
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