Brazil Zika Outbreak: Number Of Babies Born With Rare Brain Defect Surges
Brazil says that the number of infants affected with the Zika virus continues to rise rapidly, reaching 3,893. Less than 150 were born with microcephaly or unusually small heads in 2014.
According to The Guardian, health officials in the Latin American country are convinced that the sudden rise is caused by the Zika virus outbreak. The Zika virus is carried by mosquitoes just like dengue, however, the technicalities of how it affects babies remain unclear.
Babies with microcephaly are born with smaller than normal heads and their brains do not grow at a normal rate. Fetuses with the defect are usually miscarried while there are others who do not survive long after birth. Unfortunately, even those who survive experience health and developmental problems.
The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, said that Brazilians need to act actively and help fight against the Zika virus. As reported by BBC, she explained, "Until we discover a vaccine, we will need to rely on the population to help us remove the conditions under which the mosquito reproduces." 49 babies who are suspected to have microcephaly have already died and the Zika virus was found in one out of five of the victims.
Working on the investigation is the Fiocruz research institute who says that they found a trace of the virus in a woman who miscarried. Marcelo Castro, Brazilian Health Minister, announced last week that they are developing a testing kit to quickly identify the existence of not only the Zika virus but also dengue and chikungunya.
Though they are working extra hard and fast to come up with a Zika vaccine, the only way to fight the virus, for now, is to remove water where mosquitoes might breed. In addition, he also advises protecting one's self from mosquito bites.
Another Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria advised women to delay their pregnancy until the outbreak, which could last until July, is over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert last week and advised expecting women to postpone travelling to Brazil and other countries where cases of Zika outbreaks have been reported.