UNITED NATIONS – In the wake of the World Health Organization’s decision Monday to declare the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil an international health emergency, a glance at available evidence suggests open borders contribute to the vulnerability of the United States to the virus.
In November 2014, WND reported dengue hemorrhagic fever had joined Chagas disease, Enterovirus D-68 and Chikungunya – as well as drug-resistant tuberculosis and malaria – on the list of diseases brought to the United States by illegal aliens, including through the several surges of “unaccompanied minors” that the Obama administration had admitted without health screening.
In an international press conference Monday, the WHO director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, made clear the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil had been declared an international health emergency because of a suspected causal relationship. The virus is responsible for a surge in a birth defect called “microcephaly” in which a pregnant woman infected with the virus produces a fetus with an abnormally small head and, in come cases, potentially debilitating brain damage.
In Brazil, more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly – more than 20 times the norm – have been reported during the current outbreak.
’60 percent of USA at risk’
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species, the same breeds responsible for transmitting dengue hemorrhagic fever and other diseases, including Chikunguya, a disease that brings paralyzing joint pain and yellow fever. Chikunguya has been reported in 12 states, predominately in the Southeast.
As WND reported in October 2014 the dengue hemorrhagic fever mosquito surfaced in San Diego and Los Angeles. It is suspected that the disease-bearing mosquitoes were brought in the clothing and baggage of the “unaccompanied minors.”
In a bulletin published on the website of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, last updated on Jan. 25, 2015, the CDC acknowledges the transmission of the Zika virus in the United States is expected to increase, not only from travelers returning from certain areas of Central and South America – including Brazil, the Caribbean and Mexico – but also through mosquitoes in the country.
On Jan. 26, the National Institutes of Health warned the Zika virus could eventually reach regions in the United States in which 60 percent of the population lives, with local mosquitoes picking up the virus from infected travelers and spreading it to other people.
WHO declares international health emergency
“I convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said WHO Director-General Chan on Monday.
“In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications,” Chan said.
She said experts agreed that “a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven.”
“All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better,” she said.
Chan noted the lack of vaccines and reliable diagnostic tests as well as the absence of population immunity in the newly affected countries was factors contributing to the WHO Emergency Committee’s decision.
The WHO warned the Zika virus is “spreading explosively in the Americas,” including Central America, South America and the United States, with the possibility of up to 4 million cases being reported in the coming year.
“As long as we don’t have a vaccine against Zika virus, the war must be focused on exterminating the mosquito’s breeding areas,” said President Dilma Rousseff, according to the Associated Press.
On Jan. 15, the CDC issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
“Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip,” the CDC warned. “Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.”