Increase in microcephaly in Brazil may be due to Zika virus infections

Since September of 2015, health authorities have noticed a rapid increase in the number of cases of a congenital abnormality called microcephaly (small brain) in newborn infants. The latest bulletin has recorded a total of 3,174 cases in 29 states including the Federal District. From 2010 through 2014, there were only 791 cases nationally, or less than 160 per year on average. The reason for this increase is under investigation, but there are concerns that there may be an association between this condition and infection with Zika virus, which was introduced into and spread to many states last year.

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Advice For Travellers

Until the association between infection with this virus and the increase in cases of microcephaly (small brain) in newborns in Brazil is clarified, women who are in the first trimester of pregnancy should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Travellers can minimize the risk of exposure to this virus by taking all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Since infection with this virus usually causes a rather mild illness similar to flu, there may be many cases in the community that do not seek medical attention and are not reported to health authorities.

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