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WHO Officials, Experts Prioritize R&D For Zika Diagnostics, Vaccines, Innovative Vector-Control Strategies; Brazil Records Additional Microcephaly Cases, Tightens Reporting Guidelines

News outlets report on the outcomes of a meeting of WHO officials and infectious disease experts, who prioritized the development of tests and vaccines for Zika and related viruses, as well as innovative vector-control methods.

Deutsche Welle: WHO warns of spraying limitations for dengue fever, Zika virus
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that widespread spraying to eliminate mosquitoes has failed to significantly stop the spread of dengue fever. The agency suggested it may be the same case for the Zika virus, which has been linked to neurological disorders, including microcephaly…” (3/9).

The Hill: U.N.: Efforts to fight Zika virus far ahead of Ebola
“Nearly 70 companies and institutions worldwide are currently developing tools to fight the Zika virus — a hefty investment that the World Health Organization (WHO) says is miles ahead of the research effort previously devoted to Ebola…” (Ferris, 3/9).

International Business Times: Zika Outbreak: Virus May Also Cause Brain Inflammation, Study Finds; No Vaccine Before 3 Years, Brazilian Expert Says
“A recent study has revealed that the Zika virus may also be associated with a deadly type of brain inflammation…” (Varandani, 3/10).

New York Times: Zika Vaccine Still Years Away, WHO Says
“More than 60 research institutes and companies are working on products to combat the spread of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, but a vaccine is likely to take years to develop and may come too late for the outbreak now sweeping across Latin America and the Caribbean…” (Cumming-Bruce, 3/9).

New York Times: Brazil Adjusts Guidelines for Diagnosing Defect Linked to Zika
“Brazilian officials said on Wednesday that they had tightened the guidelines used to determine when babies have been born with abnormally small heads, a step taken in part to reduce the number of false positives for microcephaly, a condition that can lead to brain damage…” (Sreeharsha, 3/9).

Reuters: Brazil lowers limit of measure for microcephaly, but cases rising
“…The changes, the second revision made by Brazil to its parameters since the outbreak began last year, are an effort to bring the country’s guidelines into agreement with new figures recently announced by the WHO…” (Prada, 3/9).

Reuters: Mosquito spraying may not stop Zika, other methods needed: WHO
“…The emphasis [for mosquito control] should be put on enlisting families and communities to protect themselves and eliminate from their homes the mosquitoes that carry the disease, which has spread rapidly in Brazil and Latin America, it said…” (Miles/Nebehay, 3/9).

Wall Street Journal: Zika-Linked Nerve Disorder Unsettles Colombia
“…While Colombian officials are investigating a case of suspected microcephaly and fear more as pregnancies here come to term, this hotbed of Zika has already seen a sharp increase in the number of otherwise healthy people struck with Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system attacks nerves, causing temporary but potentially severe paralysis. Research published in the journal the Lancet on Feb. 29 confirmed a link between Zika and Guillain-Barré…” (Muñoz, 3/9).

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Releases New Figures in Zika Outbreak
“…Since Oct. 22, when reporting microcephaly became obligatory in Brazil, there have been a total of 745 confirmed microcephaly cases, the ministry said. Lab testing has confirmed the presence of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in 88 of those cases so far…” (Jelmayer/Johnson, 3/9).

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