W.H.O. calls for funds to combat Zika

Feb 17, 2016, 1:27 PM EST
Woodland mosquito. Source: Katja Schulz/flickr
Woodland mosquito. Source: Katja Schulz/flickr
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization called for $56 million for its plan to combat the Zika virus which is quickly spreading around nearly 40 countries and sounding global alarms. The virus has been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil, and its transmission through sexual acts has been determined in other countries. Reuters reports:
 
The funds sought would be used until June to fast-track vaccines, carry out diagnostics and research into how the mosquito-borne virus spreads, as well as virus control, the WHO said.
 
A public health expert, Lawrence Gostin, said the United Nations health agency had "grossly underestimated" the need as the virus, which has spread rapidly across the Americas, will likely spread to many other regions.
 
The WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb. 1, noting the association of the virus with two neurological disorders: microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.
 
The Washington Post writes that a separate group of doctors is looking at the transmission of Zika as possibly related to certain chemicals:
 
While the rest of the world is focused on hunting down mosquitoes with Zika, a group of doctors and researchers in Argentina has published a report making the provocative argument that a pesticide, rather than the virus, is to blame for the alarming number of birth defects being reported in Brazil.
 
The University Network of Environment and Health wrote that pyriproxyfen, which is added to drinking water to stop the development of mosquito larvae, may be causing something in the fetal development process to go awry when ingested by pregnant women and may be leading to the babies being born with microcephaly -- a condition defined by abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
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