There is a pregnancy virus alert in Brazil right now. Health officials have issued a message urging would-be parents to postpone their plans for now. A mosquito-borne virus, Zika, has been linked to newborn microcephaly.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that microcephaly is a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.
The link was first highlighted last month after scientists, studying the surge of microcephaly cases in northeastern Brazil, found the presence of the Zika virus in the blood of a baby born with the birth defect in Ceara state.
In 2015, Brazil has reported more than 2,400 suspected cases of newborn microcephaly, a rare neurological disorder, compared to around 150 in 2014. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organization released an epidemiological alert regarding the virus. Six states have declared a state of emergency. In Pernambuco state alone, more than 900 cases have been reported. Health authorities have declared a national emergency as they battle the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen that has been detected across much of South America’s largest country.
“Don’t get pregnant at the moment,” he said. “That’s the wisest course of action.”
Angela Rocha, the pediatric infectologist at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Brazil’s hardest-hit state, told CNN the following.
“It’s a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that’s what we’re recommending. These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined. Here in Pernambuco, we’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes that one in five people infected with Zika virus will become ill. The symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and vomiting. The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, which are diseases caused by other viruses spread by the same type of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species. There is no medicine to treat Zika.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Brazilian government officials are dispatching army troops and other crews to drain water-logged areas and search out and eradicate larvae-filled water supplies. The state of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous, has assembled a medical task force to coordinate diagnosis and treatment efforts.
As research into the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly will continues, the emergency alert in Brazil have made the pregnant and planning to be pregnant moms apprehensive.
[Image via www.cdc.gov]