World Heath Organizations Ends Zika Public-Health Emergency Status

by Richard D'Ambrosio

Zika first appeared in Brazil in May 2015.

Following a meeting of its Emergency Committee on Zika, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday announced that the disease and its associated consequences no longer present a public health emergency of international concern.

Removing the international emergency designation puts Zika in the class of other dangerous mosquito-borne disease, like malaria or yellow fever. The WHO committee, which is charged with overseeing the monitoring and coordinated efforts to combat Zika, stressed the need for continued research into the disease. Zika has been linked to congenital and other neurological disorders, and many aspects are not clearly understood.

WHO first declared a state of emergency on Feb. 1, and the virus has since spread to almost every country in the Western Hemisphere except Canada. For the travel industry, fears of Zika caused a fall in bookings to Florida, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, and other vacation destinations, especially among travelers in their 30s.

But recently suppliers have been reporting upticks, as travelers beyond the child-bearing years seem to be less concerned about the disease. Just this weekend, for example, Scott Wiseman of Travel Impressions said his Caribbean business is rebounding.

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