Zika Virus

Rio 2016: Greg Rutherford freezing sperm as Zika virus precaution

Rutherford's partner Susie Verrill told Standard Issue magazine that they harbour serious concerns over the virus, which experts say is to blame for a surge of cases in Latin America of microcephaly - a serious birth defect in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains.

The pair, who want to have more children, are as a result taking precautions ahead of Rutherford's defence of his long jump gold medal.

Hawai'i university to look into Zika virus

RNZI reports an American Samoan woman who was infected with the virus is one of two people involved in a research project by the University of Hawai'i.

The university said the birth of two infants in Honolulu in December to mothers who were infected with the virus, including the American Samoan, illustrates how little is known about it.

Of the two babies, only one had microcephaly, a neurological disorder associated with unusually small heads and, often, brain damage.

The disorder is suspected to be linked to the Zika virus.

WHO to hold emergency meeting discussing Zika threat at the Olympics

Several experts have called for the Games to be postponed or moved over fears it could speed up the spread of the virus around the world.

The WHO has rejected these calls, however, claiming it would "not significantly alter" the outbreak.

They have now called an emergency meeting for later this month to re-evaluate the situation.

"The emergency Committee meeting will consider the situation in Brazil, including the question of the Olympics," said Nyka Alexander, a spokeswoman for the WHO.

Brazilian officials vow to step-up "information campaign" to downplay Zika virus fears

Leading American cyclist Tejay van Garderen today withdrew his name from consideration for the Olympics due to concerns he may contract the disease and pass it to his pregnant wife.

Van Garderen, a member of the 2012 Olympic team, who finished fifth at the 2014 Tour de France, was set to form part of the US team for the road race.

Zika virus may have originated from Pacific Island canoeists

NZ Herald reports the study, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, suggests the Zika virus sweeping through Latin America may have been introduced to Rio de Janeiro during the 6th World Sprint Championship canoe race in August 2014.

The race included teams from four Pacific countries French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Easter Island where the virus circulated during 2014.

Zika is believed to cause defects in the brains of fetuses if women become infected during pregnancy.

Tonga says Zika clean-up working

Saia Piukala says there have been 2,010 people with Zika symptoms over the past 10 weeks since the virus was discovered there.

Dr Piukala says 36 of those cases have so far been confirmed.

He says none of the confirmed are pregnant but 17 pregnant women are part of the suspected cases.

Analysis: Who Brought Zika Virus To Pacific Islands?

But it’s a major threat to pregnant women and their unborn babies contracted by “microcephaly.”

“Microcephaly is a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, in the vast majority of cases, damaged brains,” the officials told a news conference in Geneva on February 01, 2016, and reported by the New York Times.


Cyclone prompts Zika spread fears in Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Winston is expected to intensify to a category four storm, the second highest level, when it again strikes Tonga's northern islands later on Thursday, according to Tonga Meteorological Services.

It said it expected winds to reach as high as 95-110km/h. Heavy rain is also forecast.

Aid agencies said they were concerned cyclone Winston could cause severe damage after it first hit northern islands earlier this week, especially after a prolonged El Nino-induced drought weakened livestock and crops across Tonga.

Australian Federal Police officers have contracted Zika virus in Pacific

A spokeswoman for the force told Fairfax Media that the cases had happened before this year. The officers were treated and do not appear to be showing any lasting effects of the mosquito-borne virus, which is currently the subject of a World Health Organisation-declared emergency after being linked to birth defects.

7 cases of zika confirmed in Tonga

Health officer Mrs Sela Fa‘u told Radio 87.5FM that a record 259 people sought medical advice for signs and symptoms of the zika virus at Vaiola Hospital.

Mrs Fa’u said only 7 of the 259 were confirmed to carry the zika virus.

Three of the people diagnosed are pregnant women.

Researchers in Brazil, where zika was first detected in May, have linked infections in pregnant women to a condition known as microcephaly:

infants born with undersize heads.