GENEVA Brazil and Latin America are recording decrease numbers of Zika infections than final yr, however all international locations should stay vigilant in opposition to the virus which may trigger beginning defects, the World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned on Wednesday.
The viral illness carried by mosquitoes has unfold to greater than 60 international locations and territories since an outbreak was recognized in Brazil in 2015, elevating alarm over its skill to trigger microcephaly in addition to Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“The prevalence of Zika is dropping, certainly in the Americas,” Ian Clarke, WHO incident supervisor for Zika, advised a information briefing.
He mentioned it was not clear why an infection charges had been falling.
“The anticipation was that we would see a second wave, certainly in Brazil and we haven’t seen it. And we don’t believe this is because we’re not looking. There’s a lot of surveillance ongoing,” Clarke mentioned.
Further analysis was wanted into points together with whether or not there was a “natural immunity” attributable to earlier publicity.
Wednesday marked the primary anniversary of WHO declaring that Zika constituted a global emergency. It lifted that designation in November whereas sustaining its recommendation for pregnant girls and vacationers.
To date, 29 international locations have reported hundreds of infants born with Zika-linked microcephaly, which causes abnormally small-sized heads, usually signifying arrested mind growth.
Long-term efforts had been required, similar to in opposition to different infectious illnesses together with malaria and dengue fever.
“We should expect to see outbreaks. We saw it in Singapore, we will see it again,” Clarke mentioned.
Angola mentioned final month it had recorded its first two instances of Zika virus.
“In a couple of other countries we’re doing some quite intensive surveillance work, Tanzania and some others where we know there is the vector (the aedes aegypti mosquito), we know that there is chikungunya, so really looking to see if we can find Zika,” he mentioned.
There is not any preventive remedy in opposition to Zika, however drug corporations are speeding to develop a vaccine.
“There are about 40 vaccine candidates, five are entering or about to enter in phase 1, clinical trial for safety and ability to induce an immune response,” mentioned WHO’s Dr Bernadette Murgue.
The 5 experimental vaccines, as listed on the WHO web site, are made by: Gene One Life Science Inc/ Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc; Moderna Therapeutics; and by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“It will take at least two to three years before registration of these vaccines,” Murgue mentioned.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans)