Zika virus an emergency

Doctor Tom Frieden

Doctor Tom Frieden

Roselyne Sachiti in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Zika Virus is an emerging health threat and there is greater need to rapidly improve surveillance systems, vector control and response, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Doctor Tom Frieden, has said.

Speaking during a plenary at the Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday Dr Frieden said there are many interesting innovations on vector control but they have not yet established if these work or not.

He said researchers still do not know a lot about the Zika virus and they are literally learning more everyday hence, it is important to share information with the public so that they are not seen to be doing nothing.

The key, he said, is to reduce the risk of Zika virus among women.

“Those who do not want to become pregnant for fear of Zika should have access to contraception. Those who want to get pregnant should use mosquito repellents to protect themselves. There are other methods that can be used to make homes mosquito repellent,” he said.

He said vector control is quite challenging as results on the ground were not encouraging.

Dr Freiden also said the sexual transmission of Zika virus took them by surprise.

“It is something we did not expect to see. We had not seen long term persistence of Zika in semen and no studies have been done yet,” he said.

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