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The Zika virus, its rapid spread and the serious malformations it is causing in babies, have been enough for the World Health Organization launch a global health alert.
It is not often that who declared a global health emergency, yet in 2014 the organization faced harsh criticism for waiting too long to launch a global Ebola emergency.
What causes a global emergency to be declared and what does it mean? According to WHO a International Public Health Emergency it is an 'extraordinary event that constitutes a risk to the health of the public in other States through the spread of disease and may require a coordinated international response'.
This measure aims to alert and inform about Zika and contain the spread of the virus that affects a score of countries in Latin America. In countries such as Brazil, measures such as the deployment of more than 200,000 soldiers to fight against the mosquitoes that cause the virus and in addition, Brazilian health officials distribute information brochures and spray house to house.
Faced with this alert, some affected countries are recommending postponing pregnancies, and those who are not yet, draw up action protocols in case the Zika virus reaches their borders.
The Zika virus does not cause serious disorders to those who suffer from it. The person who suffers the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the cause of the virus transmission, suffers from fever, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis or spots on the skin. But, in recent months it has begun to linking the birth of babies with neurological diseases and the Zika virus.
Brazil, one of the most affected countries, has hundreds of cases of babies with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a neurological disorder in which a baby's head is much smaller than that of other children his age, size, and gender. Microcephaly is usually considered a perimeter equal to or less than 33 centimeters, since the normal thing in a baby is between 34 and 37 centimeters. It is usually detected at birth and happens when there has been an abnormal development in the uterus.
This disorder can be caused by genetic factors or, as in the case of the Zika virus, environmental factors. These children often have developmental problems such as growth retardation, difficulty with balance and coordination, facial distortion, seizures, hyperactivity, and sometimes mental retardation.
There is no treatment for microcephaly, there are only programs and therapies to improve associated disorders such as speech, physical and occupational therapy.
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