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I wanted to provide an update to a reply I posted on Ning regarding Zika virus, which I posted prior to the serious concerns that have come to light in recent weeks. I have requested a new account on Ning but have been ignored, so I'll post my comment here.

In general, Zika is a minor disease and most who contract it have nothing to worry about except minor cold/flu like symptoms. Recently, however, there is evidence that the virus may cause severe congenital conditions in some unborn babies. Over just the past few weeks, Zika has grown from being known as a mostly minor disease, to one that could be catastrophic to the unborn. That being said, the fact is that unless you are pregnant or could become pregnant, or perhaps if you have some other serious health condition, there really is no compelling reason for the majority of the population to curb travel out of fear of contracting Zika. You should be more concerned with contracting Dengue, Chikunguna or a myriad or other diseases. 

In addition, I have seen a few posts on ning with links to abstracts that contain information that is not verified. An abstract is simply an abbreviated version, or essentially an opinion, of a scientific project or thesis and, although peer reviewed, they are often written by undergraduate students and not necessarily an in-depth scientific study. Without the ability to review the full paper and understand the scientific methods used, the data, and how it was obtained, you cannot be sure of the integrity of the study.

Here's my disclaimer; I am not an expert in Zika, but I have been working in the Dengue research field (a cousin of Zika) so I have some anecdotal exposure from my colleagues.


Edited by Jim and Judi
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Jim and Judi,

Thanks for your posting here on CL about this important health issue.

If you are wanting to link this thread to your posting(s) on other websites, you should be able to copy the URL(s) and paste them here. That might present a more complete picture of the information you are attempting to get publicized.

Note that you do not have to login to the other website to view the content. Just find the postings, and get the URL.


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WORLD VIEW Zika: Tragedy or Opportunity?

Posted on June 25, 2016 in World View

A baby born with microcephaly in New York
Post Views: 28

By Mónica Roa

THE ZIKA virus presents a rare global opportunity to effect a meaningful improvement in women’s power to control their reproductive capacity. Countries, especially those in Latin America, must ensure all women have access to sex education, contraceptives, abortion services and the care needed for safe motherhood.

Monica Roa

Mónica Roa

Zika, a word we had never heard before, became part of our vocabulary early this year. Transmitted by a mosquito, the virus causes a birth defect – microcephaly – and has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, and most likely some other neurological problems.

Its arrival brought into play words many people usually try to avoid: abortion, contraception, and sex education. But when a crisis such as this brings to light the centrality of the reproductive function in human society, no one can ignore the much-needed debates. A similar situation occurred in the 1960s when rubella became a public health scare in the United States. Abortion and even contraceptives were taboo if not illegal in some states then.

It is important people understand that upholding women’s reproductive rights is essential to respond to the Zika emergency, but also that those rights are essential to women and, by extension, to society as a whole. But it is only in these epidemics when people who oppose reproductive rights in the abstract find a particular angle where they are comfortable with their legalization. A window of opportunity appears for social change on behalf of women’s right to control their reproductive capacity.

The good news is that international organizations support reform. Never before has the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights been so straightforward about a state’s obligations on these issues. Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stated that “laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice.” The World Health Organization also calls for granting women access to a comprehensive range of contraceptive options, and non-directive counseling about their options, so that they can make fully informed choices, including abortion to the full extent of the law. And for those women who decide to carry the pregnancy to term, it calls for appropriate care and support for them and their newborn children. Even the Pope changed the church´s longstanding opposition on contraceptives by suggesting Catholics could use them to prevent the consequences of Zika.

Reforms are desperately needed and a case in point is Latin America, where 56 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned. This speaks to non-existent or poor-quality information about reproductive choices, unequal access to contraceptives, high rates of sexual violence with no adequate health response to survivors, cultural barriers to negotiate the use of contraceptives with male partners and, of course, laws that criminally condemn abortion. Zika is blatantly revealing the failure of reproductive rights policies throughout the region. Reproductive rights, as a human right for women, a key to global development, and as central to managing public health crises, have simply not been a priority for Latin American governments.

The reproductive rights gap also runs along socioeconomic lines. As it has always been the case, women with resources are granted access to reproductive services with full respect for their confidentiality, regardless of whether those services are legal. On the other hand, women living in the most vulnerable circumstances – for example, those who don´t have access to running water and are thus more exposed to the virus – are the ones who cannot even count on enjoying rights legally recognized.

At this critical moment, states should take the opportunity to ensure all women their rights and access to the services they need to control their reproductive capacity, from sex education, to access to contraceptives, to abortion services, to safe motherhood. Any response to Zika should always take a women’s rights approach and incorporate an understanding of how gender interacts with other forms of discrimination, such as those based on race, class, migration status, and disability.

Unfortunately, most don’t seem to be seizing the opportunity. Efforts continue to focus on eliminating a mosquito we have failed to eradicate in the context of dengue and chikungunya in the past. Women who have decided to carry the pregnancy to term are dealing with the lack of services to provide their babies with the special care they need, and those who want to interrupt the pregnancy face obstacles, stigma and the threat of prosecution. Women in vulnerable communities, those with the key to keeping the situation under control, could not be more fearful, uninformed, and alone.

Something must be done and the time to act is now.


Mónica Roa a native of Colombia  is the former Vice President Strategy & External Relations at Women’s Link Worldwide. She is a lawyer and advocate for sexual and reproductive rights of women, and is recognized for her work on the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America, she holds a law degree from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, and a Master in Laws as a Global Public Service Scholar from NYU.


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Highlighting added to point out the information cutoff date.



Ministry reports 370 zika cases in Panama

The first cases were reported last December.

Advierten epidemia de microcefalia

Spanish version

Aleida Samaniego C. 26 sep 2016 - 11:34h

A total of 370 cases of zika virus have been confirmed in the country since the outbreak was reported in December 2015 in the Comarca Guna Yala, according to a report of the Health Ministry.

Doctor Nestor Sosa, director of the Gorgas Memorial Institute, said that about 10 cases a week are confirmed.

Officials reiterates the call for the population to eliminate the breeding places of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the disease, as well as others such as dengue.

The number of zika cases has been increasing month to month. The disease is a concern because it has been tied to birth defects in children of mothers who are infected during pregnancy. 

There have been 158 cases in the comarca, 128 in Panama City and 26 in West Panama.


Advierten epidemia de microcefalia

AFP | 26 sep 2016 - 11:34h

En un estudio que aporta pruebas suplementarias de la existencia de un vínculo entre el zika y la microcefalia del feto, científicos brasileños y británicos recomiendan prepararse para una “epidemia global” de microcefalia en los países afectados por este virus. “Debemos prepararnos para una epidemia de microcefalias, que se extenderá a todos los países que conocen transmisiones autóctonas del virus y a los países a los que se pueda extender la transmisión”, escriben los científicos como conclusión del estudio, publicado el viernes en la revista médica británica The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Diversos estudios, basados sobre todo en series de casos o en trabajos realizados en laboratorio, han establecido científicamente que el virus puede originar microcefalias y otras anomalías cerebrales en el feto. Pero ningún científico había realizado todavía un estudio observacional retrospectivo, comparando un grupo de personas afectadas por la enfermedad a un grupo de control, es decir, personas no afectadas pero que presentan características similares. Comparando 32 recién nacidos afectados por microcefalias con 62 no afectados, los científicos brasileños descubrieron que cerca de la mitad de los primeros daban positivo en un test sobre infección por el virus, en la sangre o bien en el líquido cefalorraquídeo. Ningún resultado positivo se registró en los segundos. Esta “asociación notable” llevó a los científicos a la conclusión de que la epidemia de microcefalias “era el resultado de la infección congénita por el virus zika”. Aunque solo se trata de resultados preliminares y el estudio prevé incluir hasta 600 niños, los científicos no dudan en advertir desde ahora contra “la epidemia global” venidera de microcefalias vinculadas al zika. “Nuestros resultados sugieren que el virus zika se debería añadir oficialmente a la lista de infecciones congénitas, igual que la toxoplasmosis, sífilis, varicela, parvovirus B19, rubeola, citomegalovirus y herpes”, dijo la doctora Thalia Velho Barreto de Araujo, que dirigió el estudio.



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