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The disease came to attention in 2015 when thousands of children were born with very small heads due to stunted brain development.

Brazil declared an end to its public health emergency over the Zika virus after a sharp decline in cases.

According to reports, new cases have dropped by 95 percent between January and April, compared to the same period a year ago.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said Zika is still prevalent in Brazil despite the decline in cases and continued efforts are needed to fight the disease.

According to Adeilson Cavalcante, the secretary for health surveillance in the Brazilian Health Ministry, till 2015, the Zika virus was not considered a major health threat until it was revealed that it caused severe birth defects. Thousands of infants were born with microcephaly, leaving them with reduced head size and symptoms including stunted development, seizures and delayed speech skills.

Zika was first recorded in humans in 1950s and is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The virus escalated from Uganda through Africa, Asia, and the Pacific and onwards to South America.

The epidemic broke out just as Brazil was preparing to host the 2016 Olympics Games, fuelling concerns the Games could help spread the virus. One athlete, a Spanish wind surfer, said she got Zika while training in Brazil ahead of the Games.

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