Colombia Announces End of Zika Outbreak

On 25th July 2016, Colombia was the first country in Latin America to declare the end of their Zika outbreak. This comes 10 months after the first case of Zika was detected in the country [1].  Since then, there have been a total of 99,721 cases in Colombia, along with 21 confirmed Zika-linked microcephaly births [2]. However, more cases of Zika-linked microcephaly are expected in the coming months, when pregnant women infected at the peak of the epidemic will give birth [6, 7]. At the peak of the outbreak in February, more than 6,000 cases were reported over the course of a single week [7]; that number has now fallen to less than 600 reported cases per week.


The end of the outbreak in Colombia comes much sooner than predicted by British researchers, which indicated that the outbreak would last in Latin America for an additional two to three years, until enough people gained immunity and the virus burned out [3, 4].  Once infected with the Zika virus, it is believed that people acquire immunity; however, it usually takes several years for enough of the population to acquire immunity for a virus like Zika to die out [3,7]. Some researchers are skeptical about this being the true end of the outbreak; one researcher at the University of Minnesota claims that there is no evidence to support the declaration by the Colombian government [7]. Others believe that this may just be a seasonal decline [7] – as the rainy season approaches its end, there is less stagnant water available for the Aedes agypti mosquito to use as breeding grounds.


Despite the announcement of the end of the epidemic, Colombian authorities still advise that residents continue partaking in preventative measures [5]. Zika is now considered endemic to the country, meaning that the virus will always circulate in Colombia to some degree [7]. 


After Brazil, Colombia has reported the most Zika infections in Latin America [7].









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