Zika cases plummet in the Americas

The number of Zika transmissions in the Americas has dropped dramatically in the past year

Cases of the Zika virus have decline steeply across the Americas since 2016.

The public health emergency over Zika in Brazil – the epicentre of the 2015 outbreak and the country hit hardest by the virus – came to an end in May. The number of recorded cases was down by 95 per cent from January to April this year compared to the same period in 2016.

Zika cases have similarly plummeted throughout the rest of Latin America, the Caribbean and the US. Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 224 cases of local transmission and 4,830 travel-related cases in the US, but so far in 2017 there have been just 200 travel-related cases and one local transmission.

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The decline was initially thought to be a result of government mosquito-eradication programmes. However experts, including those from the CDC, now believe it is a result of ‘herd immunity’ – as people have developed a natural immunity to the virus, fewer infections have occurred, which has therefore reduced the chances of mosquitoes spreading the virus to those still susceptible to Zika.

Despite the decline, the CDC warns a further outbreak could still occur at any time. Experts continue to work on a vaccine.

The 2015 Zika outbreak affected dozens of nations and caused a spike in severe birth defects.

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