Close-up of a mosquito Aedes aegypti feeding on blood

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito is in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host.

Credit:

CDC/Prof. Frank Hadley Collins

The World Health Organization on Friday announced in an online press conference that the Zika virus outbreak no longer poses a world public health emergency.

"The Zika virus remains a highly significant and long term problem, but it is not any more a public heath emergency of international concern," the world health body's emergency committee chair Dr. David Heymann said.

While Zika causes only mild symptoms in most people, pregnant women with the virus risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly — a deformation that leads to abnormally small brains and heads.

The agency was careful not to dismiss the risk still posed by the virus.

"We are not downgrading the importance" of the Zika virus, said Dr. Peter Salama, director of the WHO's health emergencies program.

The agency believes the "Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action," but "no longer represent" a global health emergency, it said in a statement.

Read more about Zika from PRI:

Brazil now has doubts that Zika alone causes birth defects

In Brazil, a new Zika strategy: billboards that smell like humans and kill mosquitoes

Related Stories