NZ relatively safe from Zika virus

  • 02/02/2016
Mosquito (Newshub)
Mosquito (Newshub)

The World Health Organisation has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus to be an international public health emergency, as the disease linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil continues to spread rapidly.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters on Monday (local time) an international coordinated response was needed, although restrictions on travel or trade were not necessary.

The emergency designation was recommended by a committee of independent experts to the United Nations agency following criticism of a hesitant response so far. The move should help fast-track international action and research priorities.

The WHO said last week the Zika virus was "spreading explosively" and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health’s chief medical officer Dr Don Mackie joined Paul henry to discuss the virus.

Dr Mackie says it’s normally quite a benign condition.

“When it gets to a country like Brazil with 300 million people and 2.8 million births a year, your starting to see some of the scale that you didn’t see in the Pacific.”

He says New Zealand is reasonably safe, partly because the type of mosquito that carries the virus is not found here.

“However New Zealanders travel a lot and they travel to place where the mosquito is found.”

Watch the video for the full interview.