Up until a few years ago, most people had never heard of the Zika virus. Even though the virus has been around for decades, it wasn’t until around 2007 that documented outbreaks started to come to light. Between 2007 and 2014, there were some large outbreaks. Even so, the majority of people probably had still never heard of the virus.
In 2015, all of this changed. Since then, there have been a number of major outbreaks. These outbreaks helped to catapult this virus into becoming a household name. Nowadays, many people have heard of the virus because of the well-documented outbreaks of the past few years. Things now seem to have calmed down. So, what exactly happened to the Zika virus epidemic?
An End to the Public Health Emergency
Despite the outbreaks in recent years, in 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided that the virus was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As such, they downgraded the Zika virus in November 2016. This emergency status had been in place since February 2016, following the major outbreaks of the previous year.
However, the fact that the WHO downgraded the virus doesn’t mean that it’s disappeared. Officials have said that the virus is no less important. They’ve also said that they would be working on a long-term response to controlling the Zika virus. The WHO has stated that Zika outbreaks are still an ongoing issue, even though they had downgraded the emergency state of the virus.
The Causes of the Virus
The carrier of the virus is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit this disease to humans. A 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 Zika virus transmission.
However, concerns have arisen over the fact that there are additional ways to transmit the virus apart from via mosquito bites. These include 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. Various scientific groups and researchers have received funding to further research this problem. There are also more resources available for researchers, and a lot of collaboration is taking place. This means that affected areas can work together to learn more about the spread and control of Zika.
In addition, travelers should continue taking precautions when traveling to areas where outbreaks have taken place. For some people, such as pregnant women, this is particularly important due to the risk of the virus spreading from mother to baby.
There are reports of vaccines under development to protect people from the Zika virus. So, even though we may hear less about Zika these days, there’s still a lot going on behind the scenes.