Zika virus: the emergency is finally over

A glimmer of hope for the world shines today as Brazil announces the end of the Zika virus public health emergency. According to officials, cases dropped 95% between January and April of this year.

Zika virus, if you don’t remember, is a virus mainly transported by mosquitos. The symptoms included fever, rash and joint pain. It has also been linked to a debilitating birth defect called microcephaly that caused children to have abnormally small heads. This lead to children with stunted development, seizures and delayed skills in speech.

Although Zika has been around in humans since 1954, it was the breakout and rapid spread in Brazil in the summer of 2015 that caused international concern. Since then, the Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects in nearly 30 countries.

But despite the emergency of Zika virus being declared over, it’s important not to forget the victims. Thousands of children have been born with microcephaly due to the virus. And it’s worth noting that there still is no cure for Zika. The only option to avoid Zika is to reduce risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes that carry it.

All things considered, the end of this health emergency is a small win for life on Earth. This year, there have been no reported deaths due to Zika. And although there were still nearly 8,000 cases reported between January and April of this year, here’s to hoping that number declines.

Elise Fritts

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