The suspected number of cases of microcephaly, a rare brain defect seen in babies, continues to rise in Brazil, reaching 3,893 since authorities began investigating the surge in October, the Brazilian Health Ministry officials said on Wednesday.
Infants born with microcephaly have smaller than normal heads and their brains do not develop properly. Many fetuses with the condition are miscarried, and others may die during birth or shortly after. Those who survive tend to suffer from developmental and health problems.
The ministry’s emergency response official, Wanderson Oliveira, said at a news conference in Brasilia on Wednesday that the reported cases are being investigated to determine whether they are really cases of microcephaly. He stressed that the situation is very much in flux and “will change every day.”
“With Zika, it’s all new,” he said, adding that Wednesday’s announcement that the virus had been detected in the placenta of a woman who miscarried in the first trimester was one more piece of the puzzle. The announcement was made by the Fiocruz research institute’s branch in the southern state of Parana.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil and several other countries in the Americas where Zika outbreaks have occurred. The warning comes months ahead of the Aug. 5-21 Olympic Games, which Rio de Janeiro is hosting, and some tourism professionals have voiced concern that it could scare visitors away.
Source: Associated Press
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