Experts discuss lessons learned from Zika virus

Experts discuss lessons learned from Zika virus

Health experts from around the world will gather in Havana today for the 15th International Dengue Course. Sponsored by the

Photo: mosquito.es

Photo: mosquito.es

Health experts from around the world will gather in Havana today for the 15th International Dengue Course. Sponsored by the WHO, combatting the Zika virus will top the agenda.

Last November, the WHO declared an end to the public health emergency the virus, which leads babies to be born with brain defects, caused in Latin America. Brazil saw cases plummet by 95% in the first four months of 2017 following a successful mosquito extermination program (the bloodsuckers are a major transmitter of the virus).

Yet, while much subdued, Zika remains a threat throughout the Americas. In the US, recent weeks have seen the year’s first transmissions via mosquito in Texas and via intercourse in Florida, signalling the virus still has the potential to spread.

Even if Zika continues to decline, its true effects may not be felt for years. As the virus’s primary danger is to babies of the infected, government advice to avoid pregnancy could hit birth rates. Zika could then be an accomplice to a future economic ailment: an imbalance of young workers and aged pensioners.