Angola says it has recorded its first two cases of the Zika virus, just three months after a yellow fever epidemic that killed at least 400 people was brought under control.
Zika, a viral disease carried by mosquitoes, has spread to more than 60 countries and territories since an outbreak was identified in Brazil in 2015, raising alarm over its ability to cause the rare birth defect microcephaly.
Health Minister José Luis Gomes Sambo told reporters in the Angolan capital Luanda “Up until two months ago, we didn’t have any detected case, but, now, we have two cases of Zika,”
He added that the country is set “to take preventable measures, especially in the anti-vectorial fight against the mosquitoes.”
Angola is only just recovering from a yellow fever outbreak, which began in a densely-populated Luanda slum before rapidly spreading across the southwest African country and into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nearly 12 million people were vaccinated against yellow fever last year in Angola and the DRC in a campaign led by the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization had in November declared that Zika no longer constituted an international emergency, but it stressed a need for a long-term effort to address the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological complications.
The WHO had warned that the virus, which was found in 60 countries since the outbreak was identified last year in Brazil, will continue to spread where mosquitoes that carry the virus are present.
WHO in February declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern – a designation under international law that compels countries to report outbreaks. The moved was part of an effort to determine if Zika was linked to reports in Brazil of the severe birth defect microcephaly and the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Traditionally, Zika had only been thought to cause mild symptoms.
RAFAT S. q