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Brazil Declares Emergency As Zika Virus Is Linked To Birth Defects

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Brazil urges couples to stop having babies after the spread of a mosquito-borne virus is believed to be the cause of 2,400 babies having been born with brain damage and deformities.

Brazilian health officials believe it is prudent to be safe than sorry, and have recommended that couples should put away their pregnancy plans, while authorities investigate the outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus, and the rise in stunted brain development in babies.

The Washington Post reports:

The pathogen, known as Zika and first discovered in forest monkeys in Africa over 70 years ago, is the new West Nile — a virus that causes mild symptoms in most but can lead to serious neurological complications or even death in others. Brazil’s health ministry said on Nov. 28 that it had found the Zika virus in a baby with microcephaly — a rare condition in which infants are born with shrunken skulls — during an autopsy after the child died. The virus was also found in the amniotic fluid of two mothers whose babies had the condition.

“This is an unprecedented situation, unprecedented in world scientific research,” the ministry said in a statement on its website, according to CNN.

Brazil is investigating more than more than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly and 29 deaths of infants that occurred this year. Last year the country saw only 147 cases of microcephaly.

The situation in Brazil is so overwhelming that Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist in Pernambuco, one of the hardest hit states, said in an interview with CNN that women may want to hold off on getting pregnant.

“These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined…,” Rocha said. “We’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected.”

Until a few years ago, human infections with the virus were almost unheard of. Then, for reasons scientists can’t explain but think may have to do with the complicated effects of climate change, it began to pop up in far-flung parts of the world. In 2007, it infected nearly three-quarters of Yap Island’s 11,000 residents. In 2013, Zika showed up in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia and was responsible for making an estimated 28,000 people so ill they sought medical care. It arrived in Brazil in May, where tens of thousands have fallen ill.virus

Worthy of note, in April  2014 Brazil approved use of genetically modified mosquitoes.

They became the first country to approve the commercial use of genetically modified insects when they gave the green light to GM mosquitoes. They were designed to control the spread of dengue fever.

 

Edmondo Burr

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