It’s time to pack your bags! For the past 18 months, travelers have been wary of visiting Brazil due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus – and for good reason. One of the defects, microcephaly, results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. Because cases have dramatically dropped in recent months, however, officials have finally declared an end to the threat.

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Brazil, Zika, Virus, Outbreak, Health Emergency,

Between January and April, 2017, the number of Zika cases dropped by 95 percent, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, zero people have died this year, compared to eight people between January and April, 2016. This development is what prompted officials to declare an end to the public health emergency.

The Guardian reports that during the 2016 Olympics, the threat of the Zika virus was at its peak. Athletes and spectators were concerned they would contract the virus, and one female athlete – a Spanish windsurfer – says she contracted Zika while training in Brazil ahead of the Games.

In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a campaign targeted at eradicating mosquitos in the country. Those efforts have resulted in a dramatic decline of Zika cases. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its own international emergency in November 2016, Brazil has only now declared an end to the virus – which is transported by mosquitos and sexual contact.

Brazil, Zika, Virus, Outbreak, Health Emergency,

Related: Zika virus can remain in sperm for twice as long as previously thought

The WHO warns that the virus is “here to stay.” Though a decline in cases is a good sign, the battle will be an ongoing one. Said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance at Brazil’s health ministry, “The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance” to those who are affected. She added, “The health ministry and other organisations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya.”

Via The Guardian

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