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Third WHO IHR Meeting On Zika

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Third Meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee concerning Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

 


On Tuesday, 14 June 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) is, for the third time, convening the Emergency Committee (EC) on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005).


 


The EC will be reviewing the implementation of recommendations made as part of the declaration of a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC) and their impact on the emergency. The committee will hear updates on the situation from representatives of several of the countries affected. Experts from a range of disciplines will present research and other information relevant to the outbreak, including what has been learned so far about microcephaly, other neonatal malformations, and neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. The committee will review the situation and determine if it still warrants the designation as a PHEIC, and what recommendations might be added, modified, or strengthened. 


 


The meeting will be held by teleconference.


 


The report of the meeting will be distributed to media shortly thereafter.



WHO Communications will provide more details as they become available.



WHO Media Team



For more information:



Nyka Alexander


Media Officer


Desk: +4122 791 5029


Mobile: +4179 634 0295


alexandern@who.int

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 Tue Jun 7, 2016 2:24pm EDT

WHO to consider new evidence on Zika, Olympics next week

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?m=02&d=20160607&t=2&i=1140370372&w=&fh=
2016 Rio Olympics Chief Medical Officer Joao Grangeiro speaks during a briefing on Zika virus for international media in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 7, 2016.
REUTERS/SERGIO MORAES
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The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it will convene experts next week to discuss the Zika outbreak, including its impact on the Rio Olympics, as new research suggests only a slight risk that more tourists will be infected at the Games.

The emergency meeting set for June 14 will be the WHO's third regarding the Zika virus outbreak. Such panels are required to meet every three months to review new evidence and consider whether Zika and its ability to cause a rare birth defect should still be classified as an international health emergency.

The meeting comes amid intensifying concerns over holding the Olympics in Brazil, the country hardest hit by Zika. Brazilian authorities have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly in babies whose mothers were exposed to Zika during pregnancy. The WHO has advised that pregnant women avoid travel to Zika outbreak areas and that men who have been infected by or exposed to the virus practice safe sex, or abstain from sex, for up to six months.

The group of independent experts, who declared an international emergency on Feb. 1 and last convened on March 8, will "look at evidence around the Olympics and most likely review the travel guidance around that," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

A letter signed by more than 200 bioethicists and health experts has called for the WHO to recommend postponing or moving the Olympics to prevent an acceleration of the epidemic's spread. WHO has rejected the call, saying the Games would not have a significant public health impact.

But last week, the agency said it would take up the issue during its emergency committee meeting.

"The role of the emergency committee is to review all new science and all new evidence which has come in over the past months and to review their own recommendations, to make new recommendations or give out new guidance," Lindmeier told a news

briefing.

Several risk experts are predicting that a very small number of travelers to the Olympics would be infected with Zika. The event begins on Aug. 5, during Brazil's winter, when mosquito activity is low.

Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, project the Olympics would contribute a 0.25 percent increase in the overall risk of disease spread from travel to and from areas with active Zika transmission.

 

NEW DATA

Dr. David Heymann, chair of Britain's Health Protection Agency and leader of the WHO panel of independent experts on Zika, told Reuters last week that postponing the Olympics would create a false sense of security, because travelers are constantly going in and out of Brazil.

Brazilian authorities have sought to allay concerns over the Games as well. The local organizing committee for the Olympics said on Tuesday it has not registered a single case of Zika among 17,000 athletes, volunteers and staff during recent test events in Brazil.

Scientists are telling the WHO that the risk of global spread of the virus is "not significantly higher" as a consequence of the Games, Lindmeier said.

"Of course there is a lot of international concern out there, there is a lot of personal concern out there because it's a new disease," he said. "And the best way for us to react to emotional concerns is to look at our deep science and to give clear guidance as good as we can."

New projections obtained by Reuters suggest the risk is small. One Sao Paulo-based research group predicted the Rio Olympics would result in no more than 15 Zika infections among the foreign visitors expected to attend the event.

Although Zika causes mild disease in most individuals, it can cause devastating birth defects in babies whose mothers become infected during pregnancy. As a result, all experts say that pregnant women should avoid travel to any country with active Zika transmission.

Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of the popular "Today" show on U.S. television network NBC, plans to heed that advice. She said on Tuesday she is pregnant and will not travel to Brazil to cover the Olympics for NBC due to concerns over Zika.

For those who plan to attend the Olympics, WHO and the CDC have recommended precautions to avoid bringing the virus back home where it might be picked up by local mosquitoes and then infect other people. These include wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent.

 

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Additional reporting by Anna Driver in New York, Paulo Prada in Rio de Janeiro, Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Bernard Orr)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-rio-zika-idUSKCN0YT2BA

 

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WHO convenes 3rd meeting of Emergency Committee on Zika and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

Note for the media 
13 June 2016

 On 14 June 2016, WHO will convene the 3rd meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) on Zika and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

The Committee will consider whether the Zika virus and related complications still constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, review the implementation and impact of earlier recommendations made by the Committee, and determine if new recommendations are needed or existing recommendations require revision.

During the meeting, members of the Emergency Committee will be presented with updates from a number of countries most affected by Zika virus and/or its complications, including information about disease spread, impact of interventions, and rate and scope of complications. They will also review new and updated research and reports on the virus and associated complications (microcephaly and other congenital malformations and neurological effects), as well as progress in related research.

The Committee will review information from technical experts and research on the risk of spread of mosquito-borne diseases, and particularly Zika virus, through international travel and mass gatherings, including the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Committee will be presented with updates from Brazil on the current status of Zika virus in the country, trends in transmission over time, and the nature and impact of the country’s steps to prevent infections and promote vector control, and other interventions to protect residents and travellers.

Background

WHO Emergency Committees are convened under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). The IHR respond to the exponential increase in international travel and trade, and emergence and re-emergence of international disease threats and other health risks. Their purpose and scope are "to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” This binding instrument of international law entered into force on 15 June 2007, following adoption by the World Health Assembly on 23 May, 2005. There are currently 196 States Parties to the IHR, including every Member State of the World Health Organization.

Based on the recommendations of the first meeting of the Emergency Committee, on 1 February 2016, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern for the cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders associated with Zika virus. As mandated by the IHR, once an outbreak or other health event is judged to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and temporary recommendations are issued under IHR, the Emergency Committee must convene at least once every three months to consider its recommendations to the Director-General, until the emergency is declared to be over. The last meeting of this Emergency Committee occurred on 8 March 2016.

More on the Emergency Committees

Under IHR, the deliberations of the Emergency Committee are conducted by independent public health experts from a range of backgrounds and geographies. Committee members are drawn from the IHR Experts Roster established by the Director-General under Article 47 of IHR (2005). The roster is composed of international experts in such fields as disease control, virology, vaccine development, risk communication, bioethics, vector control, mass gatherings, and infectious disease epidemiology. Each Emergency Committee includes experts in relevant fields of expertise to the emergency under consideration.

Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee related to Zika virus and its complications

Under the terms of IHR, the deliberations of the Emergency Committee sessions are confidential to encourage full reports from countries on the spread of disease, associated risks and ongoing interventions, and to promote frankness and dialogue among members as they formulate their recommendations. Some of the background material considered by the Emergency Committee includes preliminary reports and assessments that countries or relevant experts have not cleared for public dissemination or publication, but are important for up-to-date, informed expert deliberation. Following the meeting the views of the Emergency Committee are communicated to all States Parties and the general public.

All advisors and members of the Committee must declare interests that WHO then reviews for potential conflict of interest related to the topic of the Emergency Committee. In addition, participants sign a confidentiality form. These precautions protect the objectivity and neutrality of committees convened under the IHR and are consistent with the provision of IHR itself.

 

WHO Media contacts:

Nyka Alexander: Tel: +4122 791 5029; Mob: +4179 634 0295; Email:alexandern@who.int

Gregory Hartl: Tel: +4122 791 4458; Mob: +4179 203 6715; E-mail: hartlg@who.int

Christian Lindmeier: Tel: +4122 791 1948; Mob: +4179 500 6552; E-mail:lindmeierch@who.int

Fadéla Chaib; Tel: +4122 791 3228; Mob: +4179 475 5556; E-mail: chaibf@who.int

Tarik Jasarevic: Tel: +4122 791 5099;Mob: +4179 367 6214; E-mail:jasarevict@who.int

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2016/zika-ec/en/

 

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

WHO statement 
14 June 2016

The third meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus was held by teleconference on 14 June 2016, from 13:00 to 17:15 Central European Time. In addition to providing views to the Director-General on whether the event continued to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the Committee was asked to consider the potential risks of Zika transmission for mass gatherings, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled for August and September 2016, respectively, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Committee was briefed on the implementation of the Temporary Recommendations issued by the Director-General on 8 March 2016 and updated on the epidemiology and association of Zika virus infection, microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) since that time. The following States Parties provided information on microcephaly, GBS and other neurological disorders occurring in the presence of Zika virus transmission: Brazil, Cabo Verde, Colombia, France, and the United States of America. Advisors to the Committee provided further information on the potential risks of Zika virus transmission associated with mass gatherings and the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Committee thoroughly reviewed the range of public perspectives, opinions and concerns that have recently been aired on this subject.

The Committee concurred with the international scientific consensus, reached since the Committee last met, that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS, and, consequently, that Zika virus infection and its associated congenital and other neurological disorders is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Committee restated the advice it provided to the Director-General in its 2nd meeting in the areas of public health research on microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus, surveillance, vector control, risk communications, clinical care, travel measures, and research and product development.

The Committee noted that mass gatherings, such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, can bring together substantial numbers of susceptible individuals, and can pose a risk to the individuals themselves, can result in the amplification of transmission and can, potentially, contribute to the international spread of a communicable disease depending on its epidemiology, the risk factors present and the mitigation strategies that are in place. In the context of Zika virus, the Committee noted that the individual risks in areas of transmission are the same whether or not a mass gathering is conducted, and can be minimized by good public health measures. The Committee reaffirmed and updated its advice to the Director-General on the prevention of infection in international travellers as follows:

  • Pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks; pregnant women whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should ensure safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy,
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  • Travellers to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should be provided with up to date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure through mosquito bites and sexual transmission and, upon return, should take appropriate measures, including safe sex, to reduce the risk of onward transmission,
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  • The World Health Organization should regularly update its guidance on travel with evolving information on the nature and duration of risks associated with Zika virus infection.
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Based on the existing evidence from the current Zika virus outbreak, it is known that this virus can spread internationally and establish new transmission chains in areas where the vector is present. Focusing on the potential risks associated with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Committee reviewed information provided by Brazil and Advisors specializing in arboviruses, the international spread of infectious diseases, travel medicine, mass gatherings and bioethics. The Committee concluded that there is a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as Brazil will be hosting the Games during the Brazilian winter when the intensity of autochthonous transmission of arboviruses, such dengue and Zika viruses, will be minimal and is intensifying vector-control measures in and around the venues for the Games which should further reduce the risk of transmission.

The Committee reaffirmed its previous advice that there should be no general restrictions on travel and trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission, including the cities in Brazil that will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Committee provided additional advice to the Director-General on mass gatherings and the Olympic and Paralympic Games as follows:

  • Countries, communities and organizations that are convening mass gatherings in areas affected by Zika virus outbreaks should undertake a risk assessment prior to the event and increase measures to reduce the risk of exposure to Zika virus,
  • Brazil should continue its work to intensify vector control measures in and around the cities and venues hosting Olympic and Paralympic Games events, make the nature and impact of those measures publicly available, enhance surveillance for Zika virus circulation and the mosquito vector in the cities hosting the events and publish that information in a timely manner, and ensure the availability of sufficient insect repellent and condoms for athletes and visitors,
  • Countries with travellers to and from the Olympic and Paralympic Games should ensure that those travellers are fully informed on the risks of Zika virus infection, the personal protective measures that should be taken to reduce those risks, and the action that they should take if they suspect they have been infected. Countries should also establish protocols for managing returning travellers with Zika virus infection based on WHO guidance,
  • Countries should act in accordance with guidance from the World Health Organization on mass gatherings in the context of Zika virus outbreaks, which will be updated as further information becomes available on the risks associated with Zika virus infection and factors affecting national and international spread.
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Based on this advice the Director-General declared the continuation of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Director-General reissued the Temporary Recommendations from the 2nd meeting of the Committee, endorsed the additional advice from the Committee’s 3rd meeting, and issued them as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR (2005). The Director-General thanked the Committee Members and Advisors for their advice.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/zika-third-ec/en/

 

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14 June 2016

The third meeting of the Emergency Committee met regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus. The Committee was asked to consider the potential risks of Zika transmission for mass gatherings, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled for August and September 2016, respectively, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
 

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