The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus, a global public health emergency.

The declaration underscores the gravity of the outbreak and paves the way for more money, greater attention and for a coordinated global response to fight the virus.

It’s the fourth time that the WHO has declared a global public health emergency.

The others were in 2014 with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, that same year wit the resurgence of polio in Syria and other countries and in 2009 with the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva today, Director General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, says Zika is an “extraordinary event” that requires international intervention.

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Dr. Chan says the characteristics of the virus demand great international concerns.

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The declaration will see the international community working together to investigate and understand the relationship, if any, between Zika and microcephaly.

Dr. Chan says the response is needed to minimize the threat in infected countries and reduce the risk of international spread.

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Case control studies on the connection between Zika and microcephaly will start in the next two weeks.

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