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Health Highlights: May 12, 2017

Cyberattack Hits Hospitals in England Zika Public Health Emergency Over in Brazil

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Cyberattack Hits Hospitals in England

Hospitals across England were hit with a large cyberattack Friday that disrupted patient appointments, phone lines and routine medical services.

Patients were asked not to go to English hospitals unless it was an emergency, the Associated Press reported.

Britain's National Health Service attributed the disruptions to an apparent "ransomware" attack. This type of attack holds computers hostage while hackers demand a ransom -- in this case, $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin.

Images of NHS computer screens showed the words, "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

The health service did not have evidence that patient data had been breached, the AP said.

So far, 16 NHS organizations reported cyber strikes, according to NHS Digital, the agency overseeing British hospital cybersecurity. However, the attack was also "affecting organizations from across a range of sectors," the news report noted.

Hospitals in Scotland or Wales did not appear affected.


Zika Public Health Emergency Over in Brazil

The Zika public health emergency in Brazil was declared over Thursday by the country's health ministry.

Brazil was the epicenter of the mosquito-borne infection that can cause women to give birth to babies with defects such as abnormally small heads and brains.

The outbreak began in 2015, prompting the launch of a mosquito-eradication campaign and other efforts to fight the virus, resulting in a significant reduction of cases.

From January through mid-April this year, 95 percent fewer Zika cases were recorded by the Health Ministry than during the same period last year, the Associated Press reported.

"The end of the emergency doesn't mean the end of surveillance or assistance" to affected people, said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance at Brazil's Health Ministry. "The Health Ministry and other organizations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya."

All three diseases are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Last November, the World Health Organization lifted its international Zika emergency, but has warned that Zika is "here to stay," even when cases decline, and that combating the virus will be a ongoing battle, the AP reported.

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