The World Health Organization designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications in newborns as a public health emergency of international concern Monday. The action, which the international body has taken only three times before, paves the way for the mobilization of more funding and manpower to fight the mosquito-born pathogen spreading 'explosively' through the Americas. Zika, first identified more than 50 years ago, has alarmed public health officials in recent months because of its possible association with thousands of suspected cases of brain damage in babies. The WHO has estimated that the virus will reach most of the hemisphere and infect up to 4 million people by year's end.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.