Health Care

Brazil says Zika virus emergency is over

Zika vaccine comes closer to reality

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The World Health Organisation lifted its own global emergency in November 2016. Some 7,900 suspected cases of Zika were registered between January and April, a 95 percent drop compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest epidemiological data.

Said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance at Brazil's health ministry, "The end of the emergency doesn't mean the end of surveillance or assistance" to those who are affected.

Travel warnings issued by governments to cancel trips to affected countries, while revelations Zika could be sexually transmitted heightened concern.

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Brazil was at the epicentre of the public health emergency declared in 2015, which caused a global alert to be issued by the WHO as cases were found around the world, arriving in the U.S. and Europe.

Measures to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, as well as dengue and chikungunya, will remain in place. People infected with Zika usually suffer mild, flu-like symptoms and recover quickly, while pregnant women can give birth to babies with severe defects.

The WHO has warned that Zika is "here to stay", even when cases fall off, and that fighting the disease will be an ongoing battle. Athletes and spectators were concerned they would contract the virus, and one female athlete - a Spanish windsurfer - says she contracted Zika while training in Brazil ahead of the Games. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States.

Computer models of outbreaks in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas suggest that even a mild Zika outbreak, with an infection rate of only 0.01%, could lead to more than 7000 infections and $183.4 million in medical costs and lost productivity.