Brazil has declared an end to a national emergency over the Zika virus after a sharp 95% of decrement in cases between January to April this year, compared to the same period a year ago, but the victims of disease are not to be forgotten.
The mosquito-borne disease was first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. It was not considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak revealed that the virus can lead to severe birth defects. And Latin America including Brazil was the most affected area apart from 67 countries who confirmed that they were hit by the disease.
One of the severe birth defects includes microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads as the virus holds back the growth of brain. The disease was spread through mosquito bites and even by sexual contact with an infected person. The grim fact about Zika virus is that there is no targeted medicine or cure for the disease and the only prevention is to reduce the mosquito bites and eradicate the breeding of mosquitoes.
The health scare came just as Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak, was preparing to host the 2016 Olympics, raising concerns the Games could help spread the virus. In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a mosquito-eradication campaign. The Ministry of Health said those efforts have helped dramatically reduce cases of Zika. From January through mid-April, the Ministry of Health recorded 95 percent fewer cases than during the same period last year. The incidence of microcephaly has fallen as well.
With dramatic progress in fight against Zika, the Brazil government has finally declared end of the state of emergency due to Zika virus which came almost 18-months of national emergency which began back in November 2015. The World Health Organization had lifted its own international health emergency in November last year but said that it remains a “significant and enduring public health challenge.”
As per health ministry official of Brazil, Adeilson Cavalcante, the end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance. Cavalcante also stressed that public officials will continue efforts to combat Zika, dengue and Chikungunya, all carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The end of the state of emergency definitely means that the Brazilian government and the health officials worked hard to abolish the health scare, but the battle still persists and the victims are not to be forgotten.