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Zika virus declared an international health emergency

Medical science now has a big challenge on its hands.
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Victor Moriyama/Getty Images

If it wasn't already patently clear that the Zika virus poses a serious threat, it is now. The World Health Organization has declared that Zika is a health emergency "of international concern," and that there needs to be "coordinated" response to both track and limit outbreaks. Effectively, it's a call to action -- countries and organizations are under pressure to devote research and funding toward fighting the mosquito-borne disease.

It will likely be a while before the WHO's alert has a tangible impact. Scientists are still two weeks away from launching studies to confirm the link between Zika and microcephaly (abnormally small heads) in fetuses, let alone a vaccine that's likely years away. However, the declaration could prevent a bad situation from getting much worse.

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