Why Zika is not the new Ebola

Michael Edelstein – World Economic Forum, 02/05/2016

A rise in birth defects in the Americas is increasingly linked to Zika virus, previously undetected in that part of the world. Regardless of the underlying cause for these congenital abnormalities, the key to success lies in strong global health leadership. While some lessons from the Ebola outbreak can be applied, this new threat presents a different challenge and needs a different response.

 

In December 2015, the journal Nature asked infectious disease experts to predict which pathogens would trigger the next global crisis. None suggested Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease first identified 70 years ago in Africa. Yet, a month later, the World Health Organization (WHO) is ‘deeply concerned’ and predicts up to four million cases in the Americas over the next year, including in the United States.

 

Zika virus infection causes mild, flu-like symptoms in most cases. What prompted concern was not the infection, but Brazil’s live birth information system (a system not readily available in less-developed countries) detecting a 30-fold increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a congenital defect limiting brain development. If the spreading virus is associated with microcephaly, as evidence increasingly suggests, the global social-economic repercussions could be severe. A large increase in the number of children born with profound learning disabilities worldwide would have severe human as well as socio-economic repercussions globally, causing productivity loss and high associated healthcare costs.

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Brazil: The ‘El Dorado’ for international migrants

Wyre Davis – BBC, 10/14/2014

The jungle state of Acre is a long way from anywhere. Tucked into the north-western corner of Brazil, it is closer to the big towns of eastern Bolivia and southern Peru than it is to the industrial heartland of southern Brazil. Yet it is through here that many migrants looking for a better life or escaping persecution in their own countries choose to enter Brazil.

On the edge of town, where the paved road runs out and where the jungle meets the last few buildings, several times a day small convoys of mini-vans come down the track and people get out.

Like new arrivals anywhere, they look slightly bewildered, trying to get an immediate bearing on their surroundings. But they have little need to worry.

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Brazil denies blocking Africans’ entry to guard against Ebola

EFE – Fox News Latino, 09/10/2014

Brazilian immigration authorities denied Wednesday that they are blocking the entry of African immigrants due to fears that they might be carrying the Ebola virus, which has killed nearly 2,300 people in West Africa since March.

The Federal Police, who are responsible for border control, responded to press accounts that their agents are blocking the entry of immigrants from Africa in the Amazonian state of Acre, on the border with Peru and Bolivia.

“Immigration control in the state of Acre is functioning normally and there is no order to restrict the access of Africans to the national territory,” the Federal Police said in a statement. The force said that it will adopt the necessary disciplinary measures if it is verified that any of its agents have engaged in “irregularities” while handling African immigrants.

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