microcephaly cases rising in Brazil
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[February 03, 2016]
BRASILIA (Reuters) - The suspected
and confirmed cases of newborns with abnormally small heads linked to
the Zika virus in Brazil had increased to 4,074 as of Jan. 30 from 3,718
a week earlier, the Brazilian Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
Of a total of 4,783 notified cases of the severe neurological
condition called microcephaly reported since October, 709 were found
to be negative, the ministry said.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global
emergency over the rapid spread through the Americas of the
mosquito-borne Zika virus that Brazilian authorities say is causing
the brain defects in babies.
Eight in every 10 of the microcephaly cases are in the poverty
stricken northeast region of Brazil where the Zika virus was first
detected in May.
One-third of them are in the state of Pernambuco where doctors first
suspected the virus was infecting pregnant women in the early stages
of gestation and stunting the brain development of the fetuses. The
link between the virus and the birth defects has not been
Brazil's government has declared an all-out offensive to eradicate
the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus by biting people
and breeds in stagnant water. There is no cure or vaccine for Zika
Earlier on Tuesday, President Dilma Rousseff said researchers in
Brazil and the United States will join forces to develop a vaccine
against Zika as soon as possible to stem the spread of the virus now
found in 28 countries in the Americas. WHO officials on Tuesday
expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well.
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The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States
was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said
it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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