By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States released a study on Wednesday (April 13th) which concludes that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly and severe fetal brain damage. In the article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors said that after studies it confirmed the virus’ relationship with microcephaly.

Brazil, Brazil news, Zika, microcephaly
Brazil’s Minister of Health Marcelo Castro in February disputed that that microcephaly in babies is due to other causes than the Zika virus, photo by Elza Fiuza/Agência Brasil.

“It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly. And we are also studying how the Zika may be the tip of the iceberg for other brain injuries and developmental problems”, explained Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. According to him, the confirmation only reinforces the need for pregnant women and their partners to one hundred percent avoid infection of the Zika virus.

Still the report shows that not all pregnant women infected with the Zika virus had fetuses with microcephaly, so they can not conclude that only the presence of the virus triggers the disease. “No conclusive evidence about it,” the study reported.

For researchers, establishing a causal relationship between Zika and disease in the brain of the fetus is an important step for a definitive conclusion, but prevention at the moment is the key to preventing new cases.

The CDC again recommend that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas affected with cases of contamination by Aedes aegypiti, as well as the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Another measure is to prevent pregnancies in case of trip or stay in places with incidence of cases of Zika virus.

This will cause concern for Brazilian officials and Rio 2016 Olympic organizers, who are working to combat the virus. Along with an ailing economy and political turmoil, which includes a newly appointed interim Minister of Sports, they have just launched an initiative to boost lagging ticket sales.

In February, the general director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, while on an official visit to Brazil to assess the actions taken by the government in regards to combating the mosquito which carries the virus, said visitors of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later on this year should not fear being contaminated by the Zika virus.

“Brazil is not a newcomer when it comes to organizing big events. Our specialists have been meeting with the government and the local Olympic Committee to develop a solid plan to control the vectors (of diseases),” Chan told reporters during her visit.

At the time she also noted that August and September, when the games are scheduled, is winter time in Brazil, and a much drier time of year. The drier weather hinders the proliferation of the mosquitos which carry the virus.


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