Guinea-Bissau Zika Cases Not From Americas Strain: WHO


Guinea-Bissau Zika cases not from Americas strain: WHO

GENEVA, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 2nd September, 2016) - Zika cases found in Guineau-Bissau do not stem from the virus strain linked to a surge in birth defects in Latin America, the World Health Organization said.

When Guinea-Bissau announced in early July that it had recorded several cases of Zika, it was believed to be the second country in West Africa hit by the so-called Asian strain of the virus after Cape Verde.

That strain has been spreading like wildfire in Latin America since 2015, and has more recently taken hold in Asia, with researchers warning Friday that 2.6 billion people worldwide were in danger of infection.

But in a report published late Thursday, WHO said that "in Guinea-Bissau, the gene sequencing results of the four confirmed Zika cases sent in July have preliminarily confirmed that the cases are of the African lineage.

" This, it said, means that the cases were "not (from) the predominant global outbreak Asian lineage." The African strain of the Zika virus, which takes its name from Uganda's tropical Zika forest where it was first discovered in 1947, has been widespread on the continent since then.

But until recently, Zika caused little concern, as it usually led only to mild, flu-like symptoms, with many Africans appearing to have built up immunity against the virus. It remains a mystery whether immunity to the African Zika strain can offer protection against the Asian strain.

Benign in most people, Zika has been linked to a form of severe birth defect called microcephaly which causes newborns' heads to be abnormally small. It can also cause rare adult-onset neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which can result in paralysis and even death.