Microcephaly has been diagnosed in a newborn Hawaii baby, and doctors have confirmed that a Zika virus infection is to be blamed for this condition.
The announcement was made by the Hawaii State Department of Health, and according to officials the infant appears to have been exposed to the serious infection during the early stages of fetal development.
His mother lived in Brazil back in 2015, sometime around May, and the most likely explanation is that she acquired the Zika virus during that temporary stay. Brazil is currently facing a major outbreak involving this insect-borne disease, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
Approximately 80% of the people who catch this virus are asymptomatic, and those who do show signs of infection usually complain of mild fever, conjunctivitis, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), skin rashes, arthralgia (joint pain) etc.
The infection typically goes away on its own in approximately 2 to 7 days, and there is currently no vaccine to prevent it and no treatment to address it, rest and high fluid intake being the only recommended steps that can counter it.
Despite being a relatively harmless pathogen for the vast majority of patients, the Zika virus can be extremely hazardous for expectant mothers and their developing fetuses.
Apparently, in Brazil, a record-breaking number of 3,500 babies have been diagnosed with microcephaly after their mothers were bitten by infected mosquitoes during pregnancy, and 46 infants have died because of this condition.
In contrast, in 2014 just 147 babies with this birth defect were identified, and officials are more and more certain that the unprecedented prevalence of microcephaly is directly linked to the Zika virus.
Now it seems that the congenital brain anomaly, which has taken almost pandemic proportions, has also been confirmed in the United States, after an Oahu physician recognized its manifestations in one of the island’s newborns.
Microcephaly is marked by an unusually tiny head size, and the brain’s dimensions are also significantly smaller than normal.
Aside from this greatly altered physical appearance, babies suffering from microcephaly also experience developmental issues, such as learning disabilities, speech problems and motor skills disorders. They are also more prone to dwarfism (unusually low stature), seizures and congenital facial disfigurement.
Given these risks, US authorities are now concerned that a Zika outbreak might affect the United States also, although the possibility is currently low, since there is currently no local mosquito population already infected with this virus.
All the people who have contracted the disease so far had traveled abroad, and the virus doesn’t normally spread from person to person, although it does affect fetal development, if the expectant mother has an active Zika infection.
As a result, health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge pregnant women to steer clear from countries where Zika outbreaks have been confirmed.
Some of the tourist destinations best avoided in the immediate feature are Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Suriname, French Guiana, Haiti and Martinique and Paraguay.
Those who are already in one of these potentially perilous regions from South America should wear long-sleeved clothes, regularly use mosquito repellent and refrain from spending time outdoors during the early morning and late afternoon, when the Aedes mosquitoes are at their most active.
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