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Zika virus 'to burn out within three years': Scientists

By John von Radowitz

Published 15/07/2016

Latin America's Zika epidemic could be over within three years, scientists have said. (AP)
Latin America's Zika epidemic could be over within three years, scientists have said. (AP)

Latin America's Zika epidemic could be over within three years, scientists have said.

Experts suggested the virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects, would burn out as increasing numbers of people became immune.

Fears over the epidemic have seen several leading sports stars withdraw from this year's Rio Olympics, including golfer Rory McIlroy.

While scientists indicated the virus would likely fizzle out, they also admitted it could not be controlled at present.

Professor Neil Ferguson, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "Our analysis suggests that Zika spread is not containable, but that the epidemic will burn itself out within two to three years."

Ultimately, Zika will be a victim of its own success, said the scientists. Thanks to our immune systems, the mosquito-spread virus is unable to infect the same person twice, and a stage will be reached where there are too few people left to infect for the epidemic to continue.

After the current Zika threat has passed, another large-scale epidemic is unlikely to emerge for at least 10 years, according to a study published in the journal Science.

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