End to 18 months long Zika emergency in Brazil
18 months after a surge in Zika virus related cases in Brazil, has declared that the emergency situation is over. The country has noted a 95% decline in the number of Zika cases between January and April, compared to the same period in 2016.
2017’s first quarter reported 7,911 cases, against 170,535 in the same time-frame in 2016. This year did not note any deaths due to Zika virus.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Zika was considered as a major threat. It was identified only in 2016, when Rio de Janeiro was preparing to host 2016 Summer Olympics. The virus carried by Aedes aegypti mosquito is linked to birth defects in more than 30 countries from then on.
One of the defects caused by the virus is microcephaly, a noticeably small-sized skull in new-borns.
“The end of the emergency does not mean the end of surveillance or assistance. The Ministry of Health and other entities involved including states and municipalities, will maintain their policy to combat Zika, dengue, and Chikungunya,” said Adeilson Cavalante of the Ministry of Health at Thursday’s announcement of the suspension of the national emergency.
WHO has issued a warning that Zika is “here to stay”, emphasizing that fighting the Zika virus will be an on-going battle.
“The important thing now is that we don’t forget the victims,” said Adriana Melo, a Brazilian doctor.
What is Zika?
Zika was first noted in Uganda in 1952, but it wasn’t a big threat in Brazil until 2015.
The virus has been connected to the neurological condition Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis.
As mentioned above, it is also linked to the microcephaly birth defect in babies, which causes them to be born with abnormally small heads.
Microcephaly is also associated with incomplete brain development.
Doctors have now hoping to develop a vaccine that will offer total protection against the devastating effects of the Zika virus.
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