Mosquitos Spread Virus Leading to Fetal Brain Damage
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ May 16, 2016
For pregnant parents, the worst thing imaginable is giving birth to an unhealthy baby. And that is exactly what is happening to thousands of mothers in Brazil, whose babies are being born with microcephaly, a congenital condition characterized by underdevelopment of the brain and abnormal smallness of the head. The increase in babies born with microcephaly is believed to be caused by infection of the Zika virus via mosquito.
Understanding Zika Virus
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that was unknown in Latin America prior to this year. According to a December 2015 article published in The New York Times, the virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, Mexico included. In fact, a few cases of Zika virus have even been detected in the United States, and local spread may occur. The symptoms of Zika virus include joint pain, conjunctivitis, fever, and a rash. And, as stated above, there is a link between microcephaly and Zika virus.
The Connection Between Zika and Microcephaly
The connection between Zika and microcephaly in babies born in Brazil is not quite clear; while some specialists believe that the virus is the direct cause of the increase in rates of microcephaly, other virologists say that more testing needs to be done before that conclusion can be drawn. In Brazil, there have been more than 2,700 babies born with microcephaly as of December 28, 2015, according to The New York Times, an increase from fewer than 150 reported cases the previous year.
Brazilian Government Urges Women to Not Become Pregnant
In response to the outbreak of Zika and the increase of birth defects, the Brazilian government is urging its female citizens to refrain from getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. In addition to visible deformity, microcephaly causes severe brain damage, which can result in death (as has been reported in at least 40 cases of babies born with the condition in Brazil) or permanent impairment.
Ideal Conditions for Zika to Spread
Scientists are not positive as to how Zika entered the country of Brazil in the first place, as the virus originates in Africa. Some believe that the influx of tourists to the country for the World Cup may be to blame. However, while the cause may be unknown, one thing is certain; the Zika virus has found ideal conditions for proliferation in Brazil. With hot and rainy weather, the mosquitos that spread the virus are flourishing, bringing despair for residents within the country.
Birth Defects in the United States – Should I Be Worried?
The outbreak of Zika has many in the U.S. wondering whether or not they too should be concerned about the possibility of becoming infected and giving birth to a baby with a defect. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level I Watch for the virus due to detection in Puerto Rico. Today, however, the risk of birth defect in the U.S. is much greater due to an act of medical malpractice than infection of Zika. To learn more about birth defects and malpractice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, contact an experienced birth injury attorney today. At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. we are ready to meet with you now! Use our online form to request a free case consultation today.