There is panic among many pregnant women in Brazil after it has been found that a rare virus spread by mosquitoes is liable for one of the most devastating health crisis to hit the nation in decades. Health officials have warned that thousands of cases are emerging of brain damage in which babies are born with very small heads.
The government has urged pregnant women to take every possible precaution to avoid mosquito bites. The concerns were raised after a massive rise came in cases where babies with microcephaly were born. The officials said that they have registered at least 2,782 cases this year, which is quite a lot in comparison to just 147 in 2014 and 167 in 2013.
At least 40 babies have lately died and if to believe Brazilian researchers then the cases could further increase in the coming months. Babies, who may survive, could face impaired intellectual development for life.
Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, entered into Brazil is to be blamed for the sudden rise in brain damage among infants. Virologists have warned that more tests should be carried out to prove the link between the virus and brain damage.
Experts said that the Zika virus has already reached many nations in Latin America, including Mexico. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the virus could also spread in other parts of the United States as well.
For now, the researchers are not having a proper idea as to when the Zika virus made the leap in Brazil from its original place in Africa. Some assume that it has arrived during the 2014 World Cup. Others were of the view that it might have come during a canoe race that took place weeks later.
Spread of Zika virus suggests that how easily viruses are spreading from one part of earth to another. Zika virus was discovered in the 1940s and has been named after the forest in Uganda. Before tackling the virus, Brazil was already grappling with a much deadlier epidemic of dengue.
CNN reported that, health officials in Puerto Rico reported the island's first case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus recently linked to the rise of a serious neurological disorder among newborns in Brazil.
"There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take commonsense steps to avoid mosquito bites," Puerto Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement on Thursday. He added that he expects experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to visit the island in early January to educate local physicians to "properly diagnose and treat the virus."
NBC News report said, Puerto Rico has reported its first case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading across South America and the Caribbean and has been linked by Brazilian authorities to a serious birth defect, a U.S. congressman said Thursday.
Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's representative in Congress, said in a statement his office had been in touch with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had confirmed the single case of Zika on the island.
According to a report from the MedicalNewsToday, the situation is grave enough to have caused six of Brazil's states to declare a state of public health emergency. A baby born with microcephaly has a smaller-than-normal head, caused by abnormal brain growth or because the brain stops growing. The brain fails to grow as the infant develops, and the condition often results in serious neurological and development problems and sometimes early death.
One hospital in the most affected Brazilian state - Pernambuco in the northeast of the country - is advising families to put off any pregnancy plans for the time being.