Brazil fears birth defects linked to mosquito-borne disease
Dec 25, Rio De Janeiro: More than 2,700 babies have been born in Brazil with microcephaly this year. The sudden outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil alone estimates to have infected between 440,000 and 1.3 million cases since the virus was detected in May.
The mosquito-borne disease was first identified in the Americas less than two years ago and has spread rapidly across South and Central America.
Brazilian health officials have warned for the beginning of an epidemic in the country where there are more than 200,000 and 300,000 births per year. Some obstetricians have even cautioned the women to avoid pregnancy during the rainy season when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
The Zika virus, first detected in humans about 40 years ago in Uganda, has long seen as a less-painful cousin to dengue and chikunguya, which are spread by the same Aedes mosquito. Until a few months ago, investigators had no reported evidence it might be related to microcephaly.
Suspicion arose after officials recorded 17 cases of central nervous system malformations among fetuses and newborns after a Zika outbreak began last year in French Polynesia, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
And in November, Brazilian researchers reported the Zika virus genome had been found in amniotic fluid samples from two women whose fetuses were been diagnosed with microcephaly by ultrasound exams. Brazil announced on Nov. 28 that researchers had found the Zika virus present in brain tissue of a newborn with microcephaly who died.
As more evidence arose from further Brazilian tests, PAHO and the World Health Organization recently urged officials in the Americas to watch for possible neurological problems or congenital malformations elsewhere related to cases of Zika.
The Oslo Times