The World Health Organization on Monday declared that a rise in the number of birth defects and other neurological conditions possibly linked to the Zika virus constitutes a global public health emergency.
“The evidence is growing and it’s getting strong,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said at a news conference, of the suspected link between Zika and the birth defect, known as microcephaly, in which babies are born with undersized heads and brains. “We need a coordinated international response to make sure we get to the bottom of this.”
The emergency committee called for more surveillance for microcephaly and GBS and research into whether there is a causal link with the rise in Zika cases. It also called for more surveillance for Zika virus itself, and measures to combat the mosquitoes that spread it—primarily the Aedes aegypti species, which is common in the tropics and subtropics, including the southern U.S.
*As many as 1.5 million Brazilians may have been infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus and now the U.S. and other countries are also reporting new cases.
S&P500 companies most exposed doing business in Latin America (Factset)
AES Corporation (66% revenue exposure)
Diamond Offshore Drilling (47%)
Kansas City Southern (47%)
FMC Corporation (33%)
Mosaic Company (28%)
Colgate-Palmolive Company (28%)