This mosquito-borne disease is spreading at an alarming rate in South American countries such as Brazil, causing alarm among pregnant women in particular...
An obscure mosquito-borne tropical virus is spreading rapidly in Brazil, and has been termed as the most alarming public health crisis to hit the country in decades.
Because it has caused thousands of cases of brain damage, where babies are born with abnormally small heads — a condition known as microcephaly.
The Zika virus
According to Brazilian researchers, the Zika virus is to blame for the spike in brain damaged infants in Brazil in the last year.
The virus is carried and spread by the Aedes mosquito that also carries diseases such as yellow fever and chikungunya.
Brazilian officials registered over 2,500 cases of microcephaly in 2015, compared with just 147 in 2014 and 167 the year before that, says a Straits Times report. Sadly, at least 40 of the infants have recently died, and those who survive may face lifelong intellectual impairment.
Warnings have reportedly been issued for more cases over the next few months.
Meanwhile, women who are thinking about getting pregnant, or are currently pregnant, are being urged to take every possible precaution to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
One official even reportedly suggested that women living in areas where mosquitoes are especially prevalent delay having children, at least until the the outbreak is under control.
“If she can wait, then she should,” said Mr Claudio Maierovitch, director of the department of surveillance of communicable diseases at Brazil’s Health Ministry.
According to reports, Zika has already spread across several countries in South America and the Caribbean, with the first case in Puerto Rico being reported just last week.
One mum talks about her heart-ache after her baby was born with brain damage. Keep reading on the next page.