Zika emergency declared over in Brazil

The number of cases peaked before the 2016 Rio Olympics, drawing global attention and warnings against travelling. The first cases arose in late 2015. Microcephaly, which is shown to cause birth defects, an enlarged head, and stunted speech in newborns, affected thousands of children after the initial outbreak.

Travel warnings issued by governments including the United Kingdom caused travellers, particularly pregnant women most at risk, to cancel trips to affected countries, while revelations Zika could be sexually transmitted heightened concern.

During the height of the epidemic requests for abortions doubled in affected Latin American countries, a study revealed.

Panic over the quick spread of the virus deepened as Brazil prepared to host the Olympics in 2016.

After imposing a national alert in November 2015, Brazil initiated a campaign to eradicate the mosquitoes (A. aegypti and A. albopictus) responsible for spreading the disease.

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Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Thousands of babies have born with microcephaly in nearly 30 countries due to the outbreak.

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Deaths by chikungunya went down from 196 to 9 this year.

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. The second region hardest hit is the north of Brazil, with 35.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Because cases have dramatically dropped in recent months, however, officials have finally declared an end to the threat.

"The end of the emergency does not mean the end of vigilance and assistance". The health ministry said while the disease remains a public health concern, Brazil no longer meets the requirements required to maintain the state of emergency - namely that the epidemic is unexpected, unusual or that it risks spreading overseas.

Zika has been identified by the World Health Organization as an worldwide public health threat; ongoing local transmission is occurring in more than 60 countries.

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