The Zika virus has become quite the buzzword lately, touted as the cause of everything from microcephaly to Guillain-Barre syndrome, and while new research continues to shed light on the risks from Zika, there still is no cure in sight. Brazilian medical expert, Dr. Sergio Cortes says there’s growing concern about the virus and continuously keeps the public updated via his official blog. “Unfortunately, the ravages of the Zika virus are much more numerous than initially thought,” says Dr. Cortes.
Traced Link Between Zika and Microcephaly
Traces of Zika virus have been discovered for the first time in the brains of babies with microcephaly. Besides this congenital malformation, these children are more likely to go blind. Microcephaly in infants are skull abnormalities, characterized by the diameter of the lower skull, and detrimental to the infants intellectual development. Thus far, Brazil reports close to 3,700 suspected cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not officially declared scientific evidence between microcephaly and the Zika virus, yet doctors report the presence of Zika virus in brain tissues of fetus with microcephaly.
The CDC announced last Wednesday, February 10, 2016, that the Zika virus had been found in the brains of two babies that died of microcephaly in Brazil. And in another study, published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, doctors report Brazilian children with microcephaly have severe eye defects. In December 2015, a study involving 29 babies with microcephaly was performed. In 10 of the 29 children, irreversible eye abnormalities were detected. “The future intellect of children with microcephaly is difficult to predict. However, all will be affected by some form of mental retardation,” says Dr. Cortes.
“For some reason, the Zika virus is well-tolerated by the body, and often asymptomatic in about 80 percent of cases,” adds Dr. Cortes. Thus one of the reasons the virus goes unnoticed. Sometimes it results in mostly mild flu-like symptoms that appear a few days after an infected mosquito inflicts a bite. The best defense includes the typical mosquito precautions like bug repellent, mosquito netting and wearing long sleeve shirts.
Recommendations for Pregnant Women
Women who are pregnant, especially those in the first or second trimester, or planning to become pregnant, are advised to avoid or delay their travel to those affected countries. To keep updated with the latest facts on the Zika virus, visit Dr. Sergio Cortes Facebook and Twitter feeds.