Tuesday, January 2, 2018

CDC Issues Travel Warning Over Virus Linked To Brain Damage and Shrunken Heads In Babies


The Centers For Disease Control is issuing a travel warning on all countries where the Zika virus has been spreading. The virus is very likely causing babies in Brazil to be born with shrunken heads and brain damage.

Last week, the World Health Organization said there are cases of the disease in 14 countries and now the CDC is issueing a travel warning for all of them. The worry is real because if you're pregnant and you catch the virus, there's a strong chance that your baby will be born with microcephaly.

In Poco Fundo, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Elison Wesley, 10, holding his two-month-old brother who was born with microcephaly

"The Brazilian Ministry of Health estimates that anywhere between a half a million to 1 1/2 million people may be infected," says Nikos Vasilakis, pathology professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

That's a far cry from the 147 cases that were reported in 2014 with the average of 200 cases annually for five years. In 2015, there were 3,700 cases and 46 deaths, but since Brazil is just responding now, there are expected to be a lot more cases in the coming months.

Countries on the travel warning are: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The virus is so worrisome, back around Christmas, Diply News wrote about how Brazilian Health authorities were telling women not to get pregnant and to take extra precautions to not get bitten by mosquitoes.

Countries where the Zika virus is spreading

The virus is spread by mosquitoes and is then transferred into the blood of the host. If the host is pregnant, the virus will find itself in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby and can therefore wreak havoc on their development.

If a pregnant woman gets the virus, her baby has a twentyfold increased chance of being born with microcephaly. That's why the CDC is taking precautions.

The CDC's travel warning is on the heels of a woman in Texas contracting the virus after traveling from El Salvador. She first developed a rash fever and joint pain.

Medical officials checking the head size of a newborn who has microcephaly

Back in the 1940s, the Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda's Zika forest, but for decades the virus has popped up periodically in Africa and Southeast Asia. There was an outbreak in Micronesia in 2007, but it was only in 2015 that the disease started devastating Brazil.

The CDC's Dr. Lyle Peterson, who's taking point in America's response to the disease, says that places like Latin America and the Caribbean are high risk to pregnant women traveling there.  

The Mayo Clinic explains the disease in a minute

Main image viaNew York TimesFelipe Dana / Associated Press

Collage image via The Hindu | Associated Press 


Author: verified_user