Up until a few years ago, most people had never heard of the Zika virus before. While the virus had been around for many decades, it was not until around 2007 that documented infections started to come to light. Between 2007 and 2014, there were some outbreaks but even so the majority of people would probably never have heard of the virus.
In 2015, however, this all changed. Since then there have been a number of major outbreaks, which helped to catapult this virus into a household name. Many people these days have heard of the virus because of the well documents outbreaks over the past few years. However, things now seemed to have calmed down – so just what happened to the Zika virus epidemic?
An end to the public health emergency
Despite the epidemics that took place over recent years, in 2016 the World Health Organization decided that the virus was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and as such it was downgraded. This emergency state had been in place since the start of 2016 following the major outbreaks the previous year.
However, the fact that WHO downgraded the virus does not mean that it has disappeared. Officials from the group said that the importance of the virus had not been reduced and said that it would be working on a long term response to controlling the virus. WHO has stated that Zika outbreak is still an issue and in Zika virus news stated that the crisis was still ongoing even though the emergency state of the virus had been downgraded.
The causes of the virus
The cause of the virus is the Aedes mosquito, which is able to transmit this disease. Lack of control over mosquito populations has resulted in increased concern over the spread of the virus but officials believe that sustainable control of the mosquito populations is the most effective way of preventing transmission of the virus.
However, concerns have arisen over the fact that the virus can be transmitted in other ways apart from via mosquito bites. This includes transmission via sexual contact, blood transfusions, transplants, and transmission from mother to baby.
Ongoing research into the virus
Experts have stated that research into tackling the Zika virus problem is ongoing and funding has been made available to various scientific groups and researchers to further delve into this problem. There are also more resources available for researchers and lots of collaborations taking place so that affected areas can work together in order to learn more about the spread and control of Zika.
In addition to this, travelers are being advised to continue taking precautions when they travel to countries or areas where outbreaks have taken place. For people such as pregnant women, this is particularly important due to the risk of the virus being spread from mother to baby. It has also been reported that vaccines are under development to protect people from the virus, so although we may hear less about Zika these days there is a lot going on behind the scenes.