Suspected microcephaly cases continue to rise in Brazil

Suspected microcephaly cases continue to rise in Brazil

The health ministry officials said that the alleged number of cases of microcephaly, which is an uncommon brain defect in babies, has been rising in Brazil at a fast pace, with the toll reaching to 3,893 since authorities started investigating the surge in October.

During 2014, less than 150 cases of microcephaly were reported in the country. Brazil’s health officials said that they are convinced that the rise is associated with a sudden outbreak of the Zika virus. The virus is a mosquito-borne disease similar to dengue, though the mechanics of how Zika virus could affect babies is still gloomy.

Microcephaly patients have smaller than usual heads and their brains don’t develop properly. Numerous fetuses with the condition are miscarried, and some die at the time of birth or soon after it. The infants, who manage to survive, tend to suffer from health and developmental issues.

During a news conference in Brasilia on Wednesday, the ministry’s emergency response official, Wanderson Oliveira, said that the reported cases have been investigated to find out whether they are actually cases of microcephaly or not. He mentioned that the situation is very much in flux and ‘will change every day’.

Another official, the head of the ministry’s transmissible disease department, Claudio Maierovitch, said that officials are learning about microcephaly and Zika quickly, but still there is quite a lot that needs to be known.

He said, “With Zika, it’s all new”. He added that the announcement made on Wednesday about the detection of the virus in the placenta of a woman who miscarried in the first trimester has come up as another piece of the puzzle. The announcement was made by the southern state of Parana branch of Fiocruz research institute.