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Government Says that Link between Zika Virus and Microcephaly Is "Highly Likely"

11/18/2015 - 10h08

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NATÁLIA CANCIAN
FROM BRASÍLIA

In little over three months, in what has been an unprecedented outbreak, Brazil has registered 399 cases of newborn babies with microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder that can lead to serious problems with child development.

The data was published on Tuesday (17) by the Ministry of Health. The cases have affected seven states: Pernambuco, Sergipe, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Piauí, Ceará and Bahia.

In a normal year, Brazil registers 100 to 120 cases of newborn babies with microcephaly. "The annual average has been greatly exceeded," said Cláudio Maierovitch, the director of monitoring of transmittable diseases at the Ministry of Health.

According to Maierovitch, it is "highly likely" that the unexpected increase is connected to a possible infection of the mothers with the zika virus. This is a new disease identified in Brazil this year, and is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that carries the dengue virus.

This connection was made following analysis of the test results of two pregnant women in Paraíba whose babies had been diagnosed with microcephaly while still in the womb. The results revealed the presence of the zika virus in samples of amniotic fluid.

Other factors also suggest that the zika virus is responsible. The mothers reported having red marks on their body during pregnancy, which is one of the signs of infection. The timing of the cases also coincides with the beginning of the spread of the virus in Brazil.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Read the article in the original language

Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress
In little over three months, Brazil has registered 399 cases of newborn babies with microcephaly
In little over three months, Brazil has registered 399 cases of newborn babies with microcephaly

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