Zika, a European task force working on a vaccine
Aedes aegypti, this is the name of the mosquito which is a vector for diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya, but especially for the notorious Zika virus, whose global outbreak is gaining always more worldwide media coverage. At the moment, the most affected country is Brazil, counting more than one million infections from April 2015 till now, followed by Colombia. Seemingly, its symptoms are little alarming: usually mild fever and skin rashes; but what scares people the most are the over 400 microcephaly cases reported (a serious prenatal neurological malformation entailing a significant skull and brain volume reduction in infants), in addition to other 3670 cases waiting for confirmation which may be strictly and irrevocably linked to the virus. On the 30th of January, the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported 4,783 cases of microcephaly and central nervous system malformations, as well as 76 infant deaths. Furthermore, the virus may have also caused a case of a neurological disease in a U.S. adult.
The World Health Organization declared a state of emergency, worried by the possibility of infections to increase to 3-4 million; the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, asked the most affected countries to guarantee the right to abortion for infected women; the European Medicines Agency (EMA) answered by establishing a task force of experts for the research and development of medicines or vaccines.
The virus is already present in 33 countries worldwide, of which 21 in the American continent as well as several cases in Europe: 4 Italians, 3 Briton, 2 Spaniards, 5 Germans, plus another case in Denmark. Moreover, in the last few days, China first case was registered, in addition to two blood-transmission cases linked to transfusions in Brazil and the first sexual transmission case in Texas. The fear of a global outbreak is growing.