A Not-So-Popular Virus is Causing Birth Defects in Brazil

A Not-So-Popular Virus is Causing Birth Defects in Brazil

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 8 Dec 2015 - 11:59


A not-so-popular virus called Zika may be the culprit behind the occurrence of deadly birth defects, according to health officials. It is commonly found in Brazil and is caused by the same mosquito species, Aedes aegypti, which causes yellow fever and dengue. Its associated symptoms include fever, joint pains, rash or red eye.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has issued an alert that this virus could be causing microcephaly (birth defect), whose main symptom is a smaller-than-usual brain and head. This virus generally affects a pregnant mother and gets transmitted to the growing foetus. So far there is no cure.

Research Study: In order to establish whether or not there is a link between Zika virus and microcephaly in unborn and new-born babies, PAHO says they conducted tests of two pregnant women who had this virus in their amniotic fluid.

Study Findings: Ultrasound suggested that even their babies had microcephaly. In addition, health authorities also found that the number of defects in the brains and spines of unborns and new-borns also increased significantly, when the mother gets infected with this virus in the first or second trimester of pregnancy. Although it is yet to be confirmed, Brazil's Ministry of Health says that this virus could be a significant human pathogen, which can be fatal. 

The best part is that this virus is not contagious and does not infect animals. Dr. Ann Powers, a viral specialist, advices that those travelling to areas of central and south America must take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. They could use pregnancy safe insect repellents such as DEET.


Reference: NBC News

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