Brazil confirms link between zika virus and microcephaly in babies

November 2015

The Brazilian health ministry confirmed Saturday that there was a link between cases of microcephaly, a head deformity, in babies and the Zika virus, transmitted by Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue.

Health authorities established the link after identifying the presence of the virus in a deceased baby who had been born with microcephaly and other genetic diseases.


Tests on baby born in Ceará with microcephaly and other congenital malformations revealed the presence of the virus in blood samples and tissues. Agência Brasil / Archive

According to official data, a total of 739 suspected cases of newborn babies with microcephaly have already been identified throughout Brazil so far this year, compared to 147 diagnosed cases in 2014 .

This is an unprecedented situation in world scientific research.

Researches on the subject should continue to clarify issues such as the transmission of the agent, its effects in the human body, the infection of the fetus and period of increased vulnerability for pregnant women. On initial analysis, the risk is associated with the first three months of pregnancy.

After the initial findings, The Brazilian Ministry of Health called for a national mobilization to contain the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, responsible for the spread of dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses.

Microcephaly is a congenital malformation in which the circumference of the head is smaller – commonly, less than 33 cm – usually because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.  The congenital disease can lead to serious problems with child intellectual development.

Sources: Fiocruz and Agência Brasil

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