Zika Virus

Hawai'i university to look into Zika virus

RNZI reports an American Samoan woman who was infected with the virus is one of two people involved in a research project by the University of Hawai'i.

The university said the birth of two infants in Honolulu in December to mothers who were infected with the virus, including the American Samoan, illustrates how little is known about it.

Of the two babies, only one had microcephaly, a neurological disorder associated with unusually small heads and, often, brain damage.

The disorder is suspected to be linked to the Zika virus.

WHO to hold emergency meeting discussing Zika threat at the Olympics

Several experts have called for the Games to be postponed or moved over fears it could speed up the spread of the virus around the world.

The WHO has rejected these calls, however, claiming it would "not significantly alter" the outbreak.

They have now called an emergency meeting for later this month to re-evaluate the situation.

"The emergency Committee meeting will consider the situation in Brazil, including the question of the Olympics," said Nyka Alexander, a spokeswoman for the WHO.

Brazilian officials vow to step-up "information campaign" to downplay Zika virus fears

Leading American cyclist Tejay van Garderen today withdrew his name from consideration for the Olympics due to concerns he may contract the disease and pass it to his pregnant wife.

Van Garderen, a member of the 2012 Olympic team, who finished fifth at the 2014 Tour de France, was set to form part of the US team for the road race.

Zika virus may have originated from Pacific Island canoeists

NZ Herald reports the study, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, suggests the Zika virus sweeping through Latin America may have been introduced to Rio de Janeiro during the 6th World Sprint Championship canoe race in August 2014.

The race included teams from four Pacific countries French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Easter Island where the virus circulated during 2014.

Zika is believed to cause defects in the brains of fetuses if women become infected during pregnancy.

Australian Federal Police officers have contracted Zika virus in Pacific

A spokeswoman for the force told Fairfax Media that the cases had happened before this year. The officers were treated and do not appear to be showing any lasting effects of the mosquito-borne virus, which is currently the subject of a World Health Organisation-declared emergency after being linked to birth defects.