World Health Organisation

The Question of the containment of the Zika Virus


In April 2015, an outbreak of the Zika virus has been identified in Florida and Brazil (Originated in Uganda 1947). Despite the virus only causing none to mild symptoms of fever in normal patients and requiring no specific treatment, the virus can cause severe defects or miscarriage in pregnant women. This includes abnormally small heads, undeveloped brains and hearing loss. Infections include 500,000 to 1.5 million, at the moment investigations are unsure how many people are experiencing symptoms. It is an estimated 80% do not have symptoms and 1% of pregnancies have abnormalities. In addition, recent studies have shown that the Zika virus may infect adult brain cells and is linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome (illness of the nervous system). Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This is of concern due to an association between Zika virus infection and adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes. There is currently no vaccine for the virus and the public are recommended to stay away from the infected areas. WHO has declared this a global health emergency.

Key terms:

–         Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.

–         Microcephaly = birth defect of small heads.

Places affected:

–         South America

–         Florida + US Virgin Islands

–         Oceania + Pacific Islands

–         Cape Verde (Africa)

–         Singapore (Asia)

Main Issues:

The main issue of the virus is the fact there is no vaccine for the disease and yet it is transmitted in such a difficult way to prevent (mosquitos). In addition to this, the virus can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, this being an issue as most of the infected areas are in corrupt countries where education of and contraception itself is limited.  The solution that still stands involves Intrexon Corp. where they have genetically modified their mosquitos to die before they can pass on the virus. The IAEA (UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency) have used radiation to sterilize the male larvae so their progeny will never hatch.

Possible solutions:

–         Taking education of contraception into consideration for 3rd world countries

–         Charity set up to raise money for the awareness of the Zika virus and to raise money for research to find a vaccine.

–         UN investment in pharmaceutical companies to produce a stronger insect repellent.

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