The Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil. in 2017, 3,000 cases of newborn babies with unnatural small brains were registered. The numbers are alarming because until 2014 only 200 microcephaly cases were recorded. Many of the babies born with this defect die young and those who don’t, suffer of cognitive impairment for the rest of their lives.
The virus that is spread with the help of mosquitoes was first discovered in 1940, in Uganda. The virus spread in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Zika virus started to spread at the beginning of 2015, and the connection between the defects of the newborn babies and the virus was made by Brazil’s health ministry. One of the biggest issues the health officials in Brazil are facing at the moment is that the disease cannot be prevented or treated with any medicine or vaccine. Only the symptoms of the virus can be treated, with the help of anti-inflammatories and analgetics.
The Zika virus (ZIKV) causes the disease called Zika in humans, also known as Zika fever and Zika disease. The virus is related to yellow fever, dengue, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses. The most common symptoms of the virus include headaches, conjunctivitis, arthralgia, fever, rashes and malaise. The virus can be transmitted by mosquito bites and sexually from human to human.
Since the last spring, approximately 1,5 million Brazilians have been infected with the Zika virus. For most of the adults and children the disease is not dangerous, but there are people who have fever and are covered in red rashes. The virus was considered not dangerous until women have started giving birth to children with microcephaly and brain damages. Since then, the officials have been recommending to the Brazilian women to delay their pregnancies as much as possible. Most of the future mothers develop symptoms of the virus in the first period of their pregnancy.
According to the specialists, the way that the Zika virus causes microcephaly is not yet understood. Previous epidemics show that this is the first time that the Zika virus causes microcephaly. Previous and recent outbreaks include the one on the Yap Islands, with 12,000 people affected by the virus and the outbreak in French Polynesia, which affected 28,000 people.
The Zika virus wasn’t the only major health issue that Brazil dealt with in 2017. The dengue fever affected 1,6 million Brazilians in 2017. The dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus and is mostly spread through mosquitoes. Symptoms of dengue include rashes, fever and muscle and joint pain. Fortunately, the dengue fever is curable.
Because the Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil, people are advised to delay their birthing plans, avoid mosquito bites and prevent their reproduction.
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