By Clare Wenham in The Conversation.
A committee of the World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency. This designation gives the WHO and member states the ability to recommend limits on travel to prevent the potential spread of disease and to call for emergency measures and resources to combat an outbreak.
The last time the WHO used this mechanism was during the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa. But despite frequent comparisons in the media, Zika differs considerably from Ebola. Ebola caused vomiting, fever and excessive bleeding that warranted the rapid development of treatment centres, safe burial practices and strict infection control protocols. Zika, on the other hand, is usually relatively mild. Only one in five of those infected experiences flu like symptoms, which rarely require hospitalisation.
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