Brazilian health officials have asked the would-be-parents all across the country to put a pause on their family planning.
The unusual — and tremendously delicate — message was issued by the health officials of the South American country after they linked a mosquito-borne virus to a surge in newborn microcephaly, a neurological disorder that can result in incomplete brain development and death.
“It's a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that's what we're recommending,” Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectologist, told CNN.
The epidemic, named as Zika virus, has been found mostly in the northeast of Brazil. More than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly have been reported in 2015 across 20 of the country’s 27 states. There were only 147 cases in 2014. Doctors are currently investigating 29 infant deaths that could be associated with the epidemic.
Microcephaly results in babies being born with abnormally small heads, so when the condition soared in Brazil last month, doctors noticed that it coincided with the appearance of Zika virus. Apparently, the pathogen is carried by the same type of mosquito that carries many other well-known illnesses, including the dengue.
“These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It's an emotional stress that just can't be imagined,” Rocha added. “Here in Pernambuco, we're talking about a generation of babies that's going to be affected.”
While six states have declared a state of emergency, Pernambuco is considered the hardest-hit state, where more than 900 cases have been reported.
With no known treatment or vaccine, the situation in Brazil is extremely overwhelming. What’s even more frightening is that this epidemic might pose a threat to other regions as well.
The World Health Organization, which issued an alert about the situation in Brazil, has reported that the virus had popped up for the first time in the West African nation of Cape Verde and had led to additional illnesses in Panama and Honduras.
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