The CDC has issued a travel advisory suggesting that pregnant women put off travel to Zika affected region and also issued a health alert to doctors to remain vigilant and on the lookout for the virus.
Hawaii’s Health Department has confirmed that a baby born in Hawaii with a birth defect Microcephaly that affects head size had also been infected with Zika virus. The mother probably acquired the infection mosquito-borne virus while living in Brazil and her newborn acquired the infection in the womb.
Microcephaly is a severe birth disease and can kill the neonate or cause permanent disabilities. The brain and head are smaller than usual, and the condition has been ha precipitated by genetics, alcohol use during pregnancy or infections such as rubella. Zika virus has never been indicted for microcephaly and had been considered a benign virus. It is a cousin of Dengue and symptoms of infection manifest rarely.
However, alarm bells are ringing in Brazil where the virus showed last year. Already there has been a startling increase in some microcephaly cases. The virus is spread by the mosquito called Aedes aegypti.
Hawaii’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Park expressed her sorrow for both the affected mother and newborn. The big island has already experienced a surge in Dengue cases, and campground and hiking trail has been closed. Park also added that it is important to control the mosquito population and use mosquito repellent.
It will take some time before it can be confirmed that Zika causes birth defects and how it escaped detection before. Zika virus was seen only in parts of Africa, South East Asia and some Pacific Islands. In Brazil, the virus has already caused alarm after the nation saw a sharp increase in some microcephaly afflicted babies.
In 2014, the country only had 200 babies born with the condition. However in 2015, the number shot to 3,000 cases. With the forthcoming Olympics event just round the corner, the economic repercussions of the epidemic can be disastrous.