Insect-Borne Viruses Like Zika And Dengue Could Be The Cause Of The Next Pandemic, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the next pandemic could be triggered by insect-borne diseases like Zika and dengue. Arthropod-Borne viruses like Zika, yellow fever, Chikungunya and dengue are all current public health threats. These viruses are spread by arthropods such as mosquitoes and ticks. The outbreaks of these arboviruses, particularly those transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, are increasing globally.
According to the WHO, dengue fever infects 390 million people in 130 countries annually. It tops the list for the next potential outbreak that could escalate into a pandemic. Reportedly, the Zika virus caused an outbreak in 2016 when it was found to cause birth defects such as microencephaly. Yellow fever poses a high risk of outbreaks in 40 countries. It can lead to jaundice and severe hemorrhagic fever. Chikungunya causes severe and joint-disabling arthritis. It is reportedly present in 115 countries.
Reportedly, WHO said signs are mounting that the risk these diseases pose is increasing rapidly. Dr Sylvie Briand, director of the Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness team at the WHO, said at a briefing on Thursday, “We have been through two years of Covid-19 pandemic and we have learned the hard way what it costs not to be enough prepared for high impact events. The next pandemic could be due to a new arbovirus. We also have some signals that the risk is increasing.”
The experts were speaking at the launch of the WHO’s new Global Arbovirus Initiative, a plan for pandemic prevention. Dr Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Programme, was also present at the meeting. WHO said that international action is essential to prevent the pandemic. Dr Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of the WHO said that the threat of these diseases grows more alarming. WHO said that the best protection against these viruses is to prevent mosquito bites in the first place.