Zika virus can assume 'explosive pandemic potential' say scientists

The disease has spread to Europe with Germany, Denmark, Portugal and the UK reporting cases.

Zika virus, which has spread panic in central and South America, has "explosive pandemic potential," US scientists have warned.

In an article in a US medical journal, the scientists have likened zika outbreak to the ebola crisis and asked the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take urgent action, BBC reported.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Daniel R Lucey and Lawrence O Gostin said a catastrophe like ebola could unfold if swift action is not taken over the Zika virus.

"An Emergency Committee should be convened urgently to advise the Director-General about the conditions necessary to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern."

The scientists have estimated that a vaccine for the dreaded virus, which is linked to brain malformation in children, will be ready in two years but its public availability will not happen in less than ten years.

In south and central America, the disease spread to 21 countries last year. Brazil has said the virus was linked to a foetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with smaller-than-usual brains.

The country has had 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the World Health Association (WHO) said last week.

Zika in Europe

The disease spread to Europe this week, with a Danish resident being diagnosed with the virus. Health authorities from the Danish city of Aarhus said the unnamed patient had traveled to Central and South America, Reuters reported.

This was followed by reports from Germany and Portugal that zika virus had been found in people who returned from South America. As many as six cases have been reported in UK, Public Health England has said.

While Zika is not known to be particularly harmful to most people, its impact on pregnant women and newborn babies has proved to be dangerous.

In Singapore, authorities are closely watching the spread of Zika virus around the globe.

Mosquito-borne Zika virus has not been found in Singapore, but it has historically occurred in southeast Asia.

Medical experts had said last week Singapore is extremely vulnerable to Zika virus and that any outbreak will be far more serious than the current dengue crisis.

The ministry also issued guidelines to people travelling to countries where Zika has caused health emergency.

In southeast Asia, Cambodia and Thailand have repot Zika virus.

WHO has published a detailed advisory on Zika virus.


According to WHO, the symptoms of Zika fever consist of mild fever, rash (mostly maculo-papular), headaches, arthralgia, myalgia, asthenia, and non-purulent conjunctivitis, occurring about three to twelve days after the mosquito vector bite.