The World Health Organization has issued a public health emergency of international concern for the clusters of microcephaly and other neurologic disorders possibly related to the mosquito-borne Zika virus making its way across the Americas.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that concern over microcephaly in newborns alone was enough to declare the emergency, even though the link between the birth defect and Zika remains strongly suspected but not scientifically proven. Brazil has reported 4000 suspect cases of microcephaly since last year, 270 of which have been confirmed as microcephaly with evidence of an infection in utero.
Currently 25 countries and territories are reporting Zika infections, the WHO reports.
Chan said that a coordinated international effort is required to improve surveillance and mosquito control and speed development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.
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