microcephaly

After the Zika virus turned up in Brazil two years ago, hundreds of babies were born with severe brain damage and underdeveloped skulls — a birth defect known as microcephaly.

The reports of microcephaly terrified pregnant women and prompted Brazil to declare a national health emergency.

But researchers in the central Brazilian state of Sao Paulo now say that Zika may be more likely to produce a miscarriage than a baby with a smaller than normal head.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are updating their guidance for pregnant women regarding the Zika virus. The new information means asymptomatic pregnant women don't have to get the commonly used IgM test. The announcement comes as public health officials are increasingly worried about the risk of false positives. 

Zika is a scary virus because of the terrible birth defects it can cause. Now scientists have a clearer sense of the size of that risk.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 2,549 pregnant women with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories between Jan. 1, 2016 and April 25, 2017. The CDC found that 122 of these women — about 5 percent — gave birth to babies with birth defects such as small heads (known as microcephaly).

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Health officials have published the first comprehensive view of Zika-linked birth defects occurring in the U.S.

The study is the largest so far to estimate the risk of severe birth defects from Zika infections in pregnant women, researchers report Wednesday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,

This year we've learned an amazing amount about Zika — how it damages developing brains, how it spreads through sexual contact and where in the world (and the U.S.) it's hiding out.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

There is only one confirmed case of travel-related Zika in Sarasota County, but that didn’t stop a large crowd of people from bringing their concerns to a forum about the virus.

Late last fall, Dr. Christine Curry was at a faculty meeting with her colleagues when the conversation turned to new reports linking the Zika virus to a surge in microcephaly in infants in Brazil.

"I think it's fair to say that most obstetricians had never heard of this virus a year ago," said Curry, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

SPENCER PARTS / WLRN

The first case of Zika-related microcephaly was confirmed today in a child born in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The child’s mother is from Haiti and had a travel-related case of Zika. She came to Florida to deliver the baby, authorities said.

The department of health is connecting the mother and child with services through its Early Steps program.

“It is heartbreaking to learn that a baby has been born with Zika-related microcephaly in our state and my thoughts and prayers are with the mother and child,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a release.

The U.N. health agency says sexual transmission of Zika is more common than first thought. It is updating its advice to women who have been in areas hit by the virus, telling them to wait even longer to conceive.

Albuminarium

The number of pregnant women in Florida with the Zika virus climbed from nine to 36 following new federal guidelines outlining how the cases will be counted.

Over 150 pregnant women in the United States appear to have been infected with Zika virus. That's in addition to more than 120 women affected by Zika in U.S. territories, mainly Puerto Rico.

Those are the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has been keeping track of all pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories who have lab tests suggestive of Zika virus infections.

CDC: Zika Infections Confirmed In 9 Pregnant Women In US

Feb 29, 2016
James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika infections have been confirmed in nine pregnant women in the United States, including one who gave birth to a baby with a rare birth defect, health officials said Friday.

There are 26 travel-related Zika cases in Florida, according to the latest information from the Florida Department of Health.

Central Florida is now up to three Zika cases. The virus has shown up in Brevard, Osceola and Orange counties. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Brevard County’s first Zika case. The virus was caught while traveling to Haiti.

Study Finds Zika Virus In Fetal Brain, A Clue In Outbreak

Feb 11, 2016
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain emerged Wednesday as U.S. health officials say mosquito eradication here and abroad is key to protect pregnant women until they can develop a vaccine.

UN Health Chief: Zika Virus Is 'Spreading Explosively'

Feb 1, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

Declaring that the Zika virus is "spreading explosively," the World Health Organization announced it will hold an emergency meeting of independent experts Monday to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency.