A symptom of the Zika Virus

A symptom of the Zika Virus

Is the Zika virus an international health emergency?

That is the question a committee of health experts convened by the World Health Organization will answer on Monday. If they decide that it is, that would mobilize funds for research and escalate efforts to fight the virus, which is exploding in Latin America. It would also establish the W.H.O. as the lead in the fight, a role that it failed to take on during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The current outbreak of the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has taken the world by surprise. It was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, but for years lived mostly in monkeys. But in Brazil last May, cases began increasing drastically, and since then it has spread to more than 20 countries in Latin America, where populations have no immunity to it. The W.H.O. has estimated that four million people could be infected by the end of the year.

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