The World Health Organization cautions that the mosquito-borne Zika virus, linked to birth defects, could spread to Africa and Asia which have the highest birth rates in the world. Mana Rabiee reports.
Health workers across Peru are fumigating...an emergency measure against the mosquito-born Zika virus that's spreading through Latin America. Next door, in Brazil, they're grappling with a Zika epidemic. Experts think the virus may be responsible in Brazil for thousands of cases of a devastating birth defect called microcephaly. They say the virus could eventually spread to 4 million people in the Americas. In Geneva, the World Health Organization has moved into high gear, launching its global response unit to fight the virus... setting up some 20-30 surveillance sites in mainly poor countries to monitor its spread. W-H-O's Dr. Anthony Costello thinks the virus could reach Africa, Asia, even southern Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) EXPERT, DR. ANTHONY COSTELLO SAYING: "To have a tenfold increase in numbers and the potential for spread not just across Latin America but into Africa, into Asia which have the highest birth rates in the world, we believe is a matter of public health concern and constitutes an international emergency." As drug makers enter the race to create a vaccine... the W-H-O says now is the time to mobilize communities … much like the massive public health effort that helped eventually stem the Ebola contagion.