Brazil:Declares end to Zika epidemy emergency

A mother holds her Zika-infected four-month-old female baby as they wait for medical examinations at the State Brain Institute (IEC) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Brazil has declared the end of a national emergency that had been issued over a Zika epidemic in the country in 2015.

The national emergency was over because there had been a “a decrease in cases of Zika and microcephaly throughout the country,” the Brazilian Health Ministry said in a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) published by media on Thursday.

From January to April 2017, there had been 7,911 Zika cases, showing a 95.3 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2016, when there were 170,535 cases, according to the ministry.

“The end of the emergency does not signify the end of being vigilant and providing assistance,” Brazilian Health Ministry official Adeilson Cavalcante said.

The official pointed out that preventive measures to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus as well as dengue and chikungunya, would remain in force.

There is no known vaccine for Zika, and there have been no confirmed deaths associated with the virus, so far.

Efforts to eliminate the virus by killing carrier mosquitoes have resulted in the death of multitudes of honey-producing bees sprayed with insecticide.

The Zika epidemic was at alarming levels before Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Olympics.

In November last year, the WHO lifted its own international health emergency status for Zika.

Those infected with the Zika virus typically suffer mild, flu-like symptoms. In some rare cases, women infected while pregnant can give birth to children with severe defects in babies, including microcephaly, in which their heads are abnormally small.

By Africafrique and agencies

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