WHO warns of risk of ‘marked increase’ in Zika cases

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PARIS: The UN’s health agency warned Monday of the potential for a “marked increase” in Zika infections, and the spread of the virus to new parts of the world, even as the outbreak declines in Brazil. Largely contained to Latin America and the Caribbean, Zika’s range is likely to expand as summer arrives in the northern hemisphere—and with it virus-transmitting mosquitoes. “As seasonal temperatures begin to rise in Europe, two species of Aedes mosquito which we know transmit the virus will begin to circulate,” World Health Organization assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny told a Zika science conference in Paris. “The mosquito knows no borders.” Add to that the risk of Zika-infected men passing the virus on to women via sex, and the world “could see a marked increase in the number of people with Zika and related complications,” Kieny said. At the same time, with cooler temperatures in the tropics and subtropics, the outbreak in hardest-hit Brazil was “clearly on the decline,” she added, without providing numbers. About 600 disease experts from 43 nations are in the French capital to pore over scant but increasingly worrisome data about Zika.

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AFP

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