Zika virus spreading rapidly beyond Brazil

Zika virus spreading rapidly beyond Brazil

Brazil faced less than 200 cases of microcephaly until 2004, which is a debilitating neurological disorder in which newborns take birth with abnormally tiny brain. But, the country recorded about 3,000 cases in 2015. A state of emergency has been declared in some of the worst affected areas.

A number of infants born with microcephaly die at a quite young age, and the ones who survive suffer from life-long cognitive impairment. With a motive to understand the sudden rise, in November, the health ministry of the country found a relation with an epidemic of Zika virus that started in the beginning of 2015.

Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, and was first detected in the 1940s in Uganda. According to the Brazilian government’s estimates, some 1.5 million people have got infected with the virus since May 2015. The infection is benign in children and adults as some suffer from fever and red rashes, whereas others could be symptomless.

But, since Brazilian doctors have found the virus in the placenta of children born with microcephaly, they have been cautioning women to postpone their pregnancy if possible. According to CNN, ‘most’ mothers of microcephalic children had Zika-like symptoms in the early stage of their pregnancy.

No physiological basis for, how Zika virus can lead to microcephaly has been known so far, and past epidemics didn’t prove helpful in extracting any useful information. An outbreak on Yap Islands in Micronesia in 2007 was estimated to have affected roughly 75% of the population of around 12,000 people, and a 2013 outbreak in French Polynesia affected about 28,000 of 270,000 residents. None of the epidemics led to a spike in microcephaly.

Latinone reported that, Pierluisi assured the public that there is no reason for alarm and called for precautionary measures to be made against the virus, which is known to be transmitted by a certain species of mosquito.

Since its source is similar to dengue fever and chikungunya, prevention of the spread of the Zika virus entails using mosquito repellents and wearing clothing that covers exposed skin, particularly in the extremities.

QZ report said, until 2014, Brazil had no more than 200 cases of microcephaly, a debilitating neurological disorder where newborns have an abnormally small brain. In 2015, the country recorded nearly 3,000 cases. Some of the worst affected areas have declared a state of emergency.

Many born with microcephaly die young. Those who survive have life-long cognitive impairment. To understand the sudden rise, in November, the country’s health ministry drew a link to an epidemic of Zika virus that began in early 2015.

According to the Examiner, the Zika virus, which originated in Brazil last May, has rippled through the country causing up to 1.5 million cases to be reported. As a result, this “ground-zero” nation has just issued a national emergency – warning women about the risks of pregnancy. While the symptoms track to those of a flu – fever, rash, eye irritations and joint pain – of most concern to the Brazilian Ministry of Health is the theorized, unproven link between this virus and microcephaly in newborns.

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