Brazilian couples are being urged to put pregnancy plans on hold, as health officials are linking a recent outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus called Zika to babies being born with unusually small brains. As a result, six states have declared a state of emergency. In Pernambuco state alone, more than 900 cases have been reported.
In 2015, Brazil has reported more than 2,400 suspected cases of newborn microcephaly, a rare neurological disorder, compared to around 150 in 2014. According to reports, the pathogen, is discovered in African forest monkeys in new West Nile. Believed to have been discovered over 70 years ago, Zika works in the same way as the West Nile virus.
These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined,’ Dr Rocha added.
The link was first highlighter in November, 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.
Brazilian health officials believe pregnant women are more vulnerable of developing foetuses with microcephaly if they are infected with Zika in their first trimester.
“Research on the subject should continue to clarify issues such as how it is transmitted, what it does to the body, how the foetus gets infected and the time of greatest vulnerability for pregnant women,” the Brazilian health ministry said in a statement in November.