​Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declared for Zika and clusters of microcephaly and neurological disorders

ECDC comment

The Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1 February 2016 regarding clusters of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders in some areas affected by Zika virus.

The Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1 February 2016 regarding clusters of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders in some areas affected by Zika virus. The International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR 2005) Emergency Committee on Zika issued Temporary Recommendations with the following advice to the Director-General:

  • Surveillance for microcephaly and GBS should be standardised and enhanced, in particular for areas with known Zika virus transmission and at-risk areas
  • Research into the etiology of new clusters of microcephaly and neurological disorders should be intensified to determine if there is a causative link to Zika virus and/or other factors.

 
As a precautionary measure, the Committee made additional recommendations related to improving surveillance of Zika virus transmission and preventing further transmission using vector control measures and preventing mosquito bites. In the longer term, research and development efforts should go into developing a vaccine, therapies and diagnostics and effected health services should be prepared for potential increases in congenital malformations and/or neurological syndromes. National authorities are asked to rapidly report and share information of relevance to this PHEIC.

The Director-General has endorsed the Emergency Committee’s advice.

Furthermore, the WHO is not placing any restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.

ECDC comment, 3 February 2016:

In light of the growing evidence possibly linking microcephaly cases to Zika virus infections and the spread of the virus in the Americas, in particular, ECDC welcomes the decision of the WHO Director-General to declare a PHEIC.

Read the statement:

WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations, 1 February 2016