Zika virus outbreak becomes a pressing world health concern. This mosquito-borne virus is linked to birth defects and can be spread through sexual intercourse. The epidemic is affecting countries in South America, Caribbean, Central America and Africa. The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) has declared a global emergency in response to the outbreak. The World Bank, an international financial institution, offered a whopping $150 million financing to combat the outbreak in Zika-stricken countries.
Common symptoms of Zika infection include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain and headache.
In the news: What you ought to know about Zika virus outbreak
Women are advised to use contraception
A study links microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads, to Zika virus. This case was observed in Brazil last year. Forty-one cases of microcephaly has been linked to Zika infection.
Lead scientist, Dr Ana de Filippis, from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said: “This study reports details of the Zika virus being identified directly in the amniotic fluid of a woman during her pregnancy, suggesting the virus could cross the placental barrier and potentially infect the foetus.” Source: Zika virus: Study supports link to microcephaly | BBC News | Smitha Mundasad
W.H.O has called on women who have had unprotected sex, where pregnancy is likely to occur and Zika virus is transmitted through sex, to have “access to emergency contraception and counseling.” However, the use of contraception may not be acceptable among conservative Catholics.
The World Health Organization issued a strong call on Thursday for the use of contraception in countries with the Zika virus, and said that women who had unprotected sex and feared infection should have access to emergency contraception, a recommendation that may not sit well with the Roman Catholic Church. Source: W.H.O. Recommends Contraception in Countries With Zika Virus | Sabrina Tavernise | The New York Times
However during a conference, Pope Francis made a surprising statement when asked whether the church should consider the use of contraception with regards to addressing the health crisis brought by the mosquito-borne virus.
“It is to kill someone in order to save another. This is what the Mafia does,” Francis said. “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.” Source: Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika | Daniel Burke and Elizabeth Cohen | CNN
Map showing countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission
Featured image credits: FreeImages.com/Gabor Bibor