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Zika virus may not cause microcephaly: Study
Jul 21, 2016

A new study has found connection between the number of Zika and microcephaly.

What is microcephaly:

The epidemic of microcephaly -- a birth defect where a baby's head is small.

Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects.


  • Prenatal Zika virus infection has been linked to adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, most notably microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies.
  • In Brazil, the microcephaly rate soared with more than 1,500 confirmed cases.
  • The findings imply that there could be another cause for microcephaly in Brazil. Some researchers say Brazil’s microcephaly cases could be blamed to the pesticide pyriproxyfen. Pyriproxyfen is used to eliminate the larvae of the mosquitoes that spread Zika, which include the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, Zika’s primary vector. The pesticide is introduced into the drinking water in some areas of Brazil.

Zika Disease

Zika virus disease is an emerging viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that is known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya.  The virus was first isolated in 1947, from a monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda. Since then it has caused small and sporadic outbreaks in parts of Africa and South-East Asia. In Brazil, for reasons yet unclear, it quickly flared into an epidemic after its arrival—by official estimates infecting as many as 1.5m people

World Health Organization has reported 22 countries and territories in Americas from where local transmission of Zika virus has been reported. Microcephaly in the newborn and other neurological syndromes (Guillain Barre Syndrome) have been found temporally associated with Zika virus infection. However, there are a number of genetic and other causes for microcephaly and neurological syndromes like Guillain Barre Syndrome.

Zika virus disease has the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector, a lack of immunity among population in newly affected areas and the high volume of international travel. As of now, the disease has not been reported in India. However, the mosquito that transmits Zika virus, namely Aedes aegypti , that also transmits dengue virus,  is widely prevalent in India.’

Symptoms of Disease:

  • A majority of those infected with Zika virus disease either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body ache, joint pains. Zika virus infection should be suspected in patients reporting with acute onset of fever, maculo-papular rash and arthralgia, among those individuals who travelled to areas with ongoing transmission during the two weeks preceding the onset of illness.
  • Based on the available information of previous outbreaks, severe forms of disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and fatalities are rare. There is no vaccine or drug available to prevent/ treat Zika virus disease at present.
  • World Health Organization has declared Zika virus disease to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1stFebruary, 2016.

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