Zika Virus Update

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency over the Zika virus, both due to the rapid spread of the disease and the link to microcephaly in Brazil and French Polynesia, according to reports from CNN.

Governments at all levels are beginning to issue missives and start planning for how best to respond to the perceived threat. Much as with earlier international outbreaks of emerging diseases like SARS or Ebola, Zika offers an opportunity for people to review their own plans for preparedness in the event of pandemic or other health crisis.

In New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan and public health and emergency officials are taking steps to prepare for in state occurrences of the virus, according to The Concord Patch. While no occurrences in state are known, and the virus isn't considered life threatening, it is still seen as important to work to educate and prepare people as to the virus and its effects.

“Protecting the health and safety of our citizens in the event of a public health emergency is one of state government’s most important responsibilities, and it requires effective coordination between the state, local and federal governments and health care providers,” said Hassan. “Because New Hampshire does not currently have the kind of mosquitoes that can transmit the Zika virus, we are not at risk of an outbreak, but we must ensure that we are prepared to assist those who might become infected elsewhere and we must continue improving education and awareness efforts for both clinicians and the general public.”

As per the New Hampshire DHHS website:

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that is related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus. It was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia but did not begin spreading to South and Central America until 2015. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects.