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New study: Zika virus threatens microcephaly epidmia
The Zika virus, which has been spreading in Latin America for months, has long been suspected of causing skull malformations in newborns. A new study has now underpinned the connection between Zika infection in pregnant women and microcephaly syndrome in babies. According to the researchers, the problem could become global.
Global health emergency
The dangerous Zika virus has been spreading in several countries in Central and South America since last year. The pathogen was occasionally brought to other parts of the world by travelers. A few months ago, experts even warned of a possible Zika virus epidemic around the Mediterranean. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a global health emergency due to the virus.
Brain malformations in babies
According to health experts, the Zika virus, which is predominantly transmitted by mosquitoes, is not fatal and leads to flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and sometimes skin rash in around 20 percent of those infected. The pathogen is also held responsible for thousands of cases of microcephaly in babies. The children are born with an unusually small head, which can lead to brain malformations. After the cases in Latin America, the first baby with microcephaly was born in Europe in the summer.
Researchers warn of a global microcephaly epidemic
There could be more because scientists have now warned of a global microcephaly epidemic as a result of the spread of the Zika virus. According to the AFP news agency, the virus experts provided further evidence of the connection between Zika infection in pregnant women and microcephaly syndrome in newborns. "We recommend that we prepare for a global epidemic of microcephaly and other Zika-related diseases," said the doctors from Great Britain and Brazil.
Relationship between Zika virus and microcephaly
The results of the study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggest, according to the authors, "that the microcephaly epidemic is spreading to all countries where the Zika virus is currently being transmitted or where the transmission is likely to spread becomes".
As part of their study, the researchers examined pregnant women and newborns in an area of Brazil that is particularly affected by Zika. According to the information, half of 32 babies with microcephaly were able to detect the virus in the body. However, it was not proven in a comparison group of 64 healthy babies.
According to the authors, the result supports the already widely accepted assumption that there is a connection between Zika and microcephaly. According to the scientists, 80 percent of the babies with microcephaly were infected with Zika during pregnancy. According to the study, the virus was found in 64 percent of the mothers of healthy babies. The study authors took this as evidence of how far the virus has spread in the affected areas. (ad)