Zika virus [to 6 February 2016]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations
1 February 2016
[Excerpt; Full statement distributed earlier and available here]
Based on the advice of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus the Director-General declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1 February 2016. The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s advice and issued them as Temporary Recommendations under IHR (2005).
WHO: Zika situation report – 5 February 2016
Neurological syndrome and congenital anomalies
Read the full situation report :: 6 pages
:: An Emergency Committee was convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) on 1 February 2016. Following the advice of the Committee, the Director-General announced the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurologic disorders reported in Brazil to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
:: The Emergency Committee agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All experts agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.
:: Between January 2014 and 5 February 2016, a total of 33 countries have reported autochthonous circulation of Zika virus. There is also indirect evidence of local transmission in 6 additional countries.
:: The geographical distribution of Zika virus has been steadily increasing since it was first detected in the Americas in 2015. Further spread to countries within the geographical range of competent disease vectors — Aedes mosquitoes — is considered likely.
:: Seven countries have reported an increase in the incidence of cases of microcephaly and/or Guillain-Barré syndrome concomitantly with a Zika virus outbreak.
:: The global prevention and control strategy launched by WHO is based on surveillance, response activities, and research.
WHO: Zika: Research in emergencies
February 2016 — To improve timely access to data in the context of a public health emergency, the WHO Bulletin is implementing a new data-sharing and reporting protocol. All research manuscripts relevant to the Zika epidemic will be posted online in the “Zika Open” collection within 24 hours.
CDC issues Interim Guidelines for Preventing Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus and Updated Interim Guidelines for Health Care Providers Caring for Pregnant Women and Women of Reproductive Age with Possible Zika Virus Exposure
Friday, February 5, 2016,
CDC has issued new interim guidance on preventing sexual transmission of Zika virus after confirming through laboratory testing, in collaboration with Dallas County Health and Human Services, the first case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler in the continental United States during this outbreak.
Although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted. Because there currently is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
Based on what we know now, CDC is issuing interim recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of sexual transmission of Zika virus from infected women to their sex partners. CDC expects to update its interim guidance as new information becomes available….
CDC adds 2 destinations to interim travel guidance related to Zika virus – Media Statement
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2016
CDC is working with other public health officials to monitor for ongoing Zika virus transmission. Today, CDC added the following destinations to the Zika virus travel alerts: Jamaica and Tonga. CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. For a full list of affected countries/regions: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to continue to change over time..
Sanofi Pasteur to leverage its strong vaccine legacy in hunt for Zika vaccine
February 2, 2016
– Building on the company’s successful history in developing vaccines against similar viruses, most recently the introduction of Dengvaxia® against dengue, Sanofi Pasteur is launching a Zika vaccine project –
Lyon, France – February 2, 2016 -Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, announced today that it has launched a vaccine research and development project targeting the prevention of Zika virus infection and disease.
Sanofi Pasteur leads the vaccine field for viruses in the same family as Zika virus (ZIKV), with licensed vaccines against Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis and, most recently, Dengue. Importantly, Sanofi Pasteur’s expertise and established R&D and industrial infrastructure for the newly licensed vaccine for dengue, Dengvaxia®, can be rapidly leveraged to help understand the spread of ZIKV and potentially speed identification of a vaccine candidate for further clinical development.
“Our invaluable collaborations with scientific and public health experts, both globally and in the regions affected by the outbreaks of ZIKV, together with the mobilization of our best experts will expedite efforts to research and develop a vaccine for this disease,” said Dr. John Shiver, Global Head of R&D, Sanofi Pasteur.
The ZIKV is closely related to Dengue; it belongs to the same Flavivirus genus, is spread by the same species of mosquito and has a similar acute clinical presentation. Common symptoms caused by a Zika infection include fever, rash, joint swelling, conjunctivitis and headaches. However, there is a growing body of evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women with an increased risk of a severe congenital complication at birth called microcephaly. Normally a rare condition, microcephaly results in an abnormally small head impairing brain development.
“Sanofi Pasteur is responding to the global call to action to develop a Zika vaccine given the disease’s rapid spread and possible medical complications,” says Dr. Nicholas Jackson, Global Head of Research for Sanofi Pasteur who will be driving the new ZIKV vaccine project. “In addition to the serious possibility of congenital complications associated with Zika, investigations are also underway to assess another reported connection between Zika and a dangerous neurological disorder”.
Until recently, ZIKV was considered a rare and seemingly benign virus. However in May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed ZIKV infection in Brazil, and since then it has spread across the Americas. In the United States, authorities have reported a locally transmitted case of Zika in Puerto Rico, with reports of cases in continental United States in returning travelers.
At a briefing session during the 138th Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, stated that the WHO is deeply concerned about ZIKV for four main reasons:
:: the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes;
:: the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector;
:: the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas;
:: absence of vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued travel recommendations for pregnant women to post-pone travel to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where ZIKV transmission is ongoing.
Presently there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika. Vector control remains an important means of potentially controlling the mosquitoes responsible for spreading Zika.
Pfizer, J&J, Merck evaluating technologies for Zika vaccine
Reuters Wed Feb 3, 2016
Bharat Biotech says working on two possible Zika vaccines
Reuters Wed Feb 3, 2016
Takeda Assembles Team to Evaluate Zika Vaccine Possibilities
Bloomberg Business February 2, 2016
NIH [to 6 February 2016]
February 5, 2016
NIH seeks research applications to study Zika in pregnancy, developing fetus
New effort seeks to understand virus’ effect on reproduction, child development.
IOM / International Organization for Migration [to 6 February 2016]
IOM: Migrants Must Be Included in Zika Virus Response Plans
Switzerland – IOM DG William Lacy Swing has called on governments to include migrants and mobile populations in Zika Virus preparedness and response plans.
UN OHCHR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [to 6 February 2016]
5 February 2016
Upholding women’s human rights essential to Zika response – Zeid
GENEVA – Upholding women’s human rights is essential if the response to the Zika health emergency is to be effective, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Friday, adding that laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services in contravention of international standards, must be repealed and concrete steps must be taken so that women have the information, support and services they require to exercise their rights to determine whether and when they become pregnant.
“Clearly, managing the spread of Zika is a major challenge to the governments in Latin America,” Zeid said. “However, the advice of some governments to women to delay getting pregnant, ignores the reality that many women and girls simply cannot exercise control over whether or when or under what circumstances they become pregnant, especially in an environment where sexual violence is so common.”
“In Zika-affected countries that have restrictive laws governing women’s reproductive rights, the situation facing women and girls is particularly stark on a number of levels,” the UN Human Rights Chief said. “In situations where sexual violence is rampant, and sexual and reproductive health services are criminalized, or simply unavailable, efforts to halt this crisis will not be enhanced by placing the focus on advising women and girls not to become pregnant. Many of the key issues revolve around men’s failure to uphold the rights of women and girls, and a range of strong measures need to be taken to tackle these underlying problems.”
The World Health Organization has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern amid concerns of a possible association between upsurges in reported cases of Zika virus disease and of microcephaly in Latin America. A causative link between Zika and microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads), and Zika and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a neurological condition), is still under investigation.
Amid the continuing spread of the Zika virus, authorities must ensure that their public health response is pursued in conformity with their human rights obligations, in particular relating to health and health-related rights.
“Upholding human rights is essential to an effective public health response and this requires that governments ensure women, men and adolescents have access to comprehensive and affordable quality sexual and reproductive health services and information, without discrimination,” Zeid said, noting that comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services include contraception — including emergency contraception — maternal healthcare and safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.
“Health services must be delivered in a way that ensures a woman’s fully informed consent, respects her dignity, guarantees her privacy, and is responsive to her needs and perspectives,” he added….