Saudi Arabia says it is free of Zika virus
The Ministry of Health announced that Saudi Arabia has not recorded any cases of Zika virus.
A source said the ministry has in place a preventive program educating health practitioners on how to deal with the virus if they came across a patient.
“The virus is widely spread in South America and Latin America. Travelers who have weak immunity, chronic diseases or pregnant women are advised to postpone their trip to the Americas for their safety as they would be in high risk of contracting the disease,” said the source.
The World Health Organization is meeting Monday to decide whether the Zika virus outbreak suspected of causing a surge of serious birth defects should be considered a global emergency on the scale of Ebola.
The UN health agency warned last week that the mosquito-borne disease was ‘spreading explosively’ in the Americas, with the region expected to see up to four million cases this year.
Experts also fear the warm weather system El Nino will fuel the outbreak by increasing the mosquito population.
Brazil sounded the alarm in October, when a rash of microcephaly cases, a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain, emerged in the northeast. Since then, there have been 270 confirmed cases and 3,448 suspected cases, up from 147 in 2014.
There are fears that the virus — which has spread to 23 countries — is being passed to humans via the common mosquito, as some say El Nino is playing a factor into the rapid spread of it.
Zika has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains in Brazil.
This article first appeared on Saudi Gazette on February 2, 2016.