Brazil declares end to Zika emergency on 11 May 2017

Brazil on 11 May 2017 declared an end to public health emergency for the Zika virus after about 18 months of fight against this mosquito-borne virus. The Zika virus emergency fell upon Brazil when the country was preparing to host the 2016 Olympics, fuelling the concerns that Rio Olympics could spread the virus. In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a mosquito-eradication campaign which resultantly helped to dramatically reduce cases of Zika.

From January till mid-April 2017, Brazil recorded 95 percent fewer cases than during the same period in 2016 when there were 170535 cases.  The number of cases of microcephaly fell as well. In November 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) lifted its own international health emergency status for Zika.  However, the end of the emergency does not signify the end of providing assistance. Moreover, measures to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya, will also remain in place.

Zika Virus was not considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak of it which revealed that Zika could lead to severe birth defects like microcephaly which causes babies to be born with skulls much smaller than expected. The virus was reported in dozens of countries and many travellers cancelled their trips to Zika-infected places. Even pregnant women were also recommended to avoid travelling affected areas. The concern spread even more widely when health agencies found out that Zika virus could also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

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