When several cases of microcephaly were reported in the same areas that Zika virus was spreading, the Ministry of Health director Sergio Cortes and his staff came to the conclusion that both of those issues were related. Most of the Zika virus cases were reported in the Northern areas of Brazil in April and May, and by August there were enough reported cases of microcephaly in the North to make a case for the relationship that exists between the Zika virus and birth defects.
The Zika virus has been moving around the world for more than 75 years. The first cases of the Zika virus in Brazil didn’t come to light until April 2015. Very little was known about the virus except that is causes fever, muscle aches and rash in most people, and the carrier of the virus was the invasive pest known as the Aedes aegypti mosquito. There weren’t any significant studies done on the virus and no vaccine was made to protect populations in Africa, Asia and South America from the virus.
But during his research on the Zika virus, Dr. Cortes discovered an interesting fact. Doctors in the Northern towns of Brazil where the microcephaly cases were reported are the same towns that were crop-sprayed with a chemical larvicide that produces a genetic malfunction in mosquitoes. The crop-spraying started in 2014. The chemical larvicide, also known as Pyriproxyfen, is the solution used to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes. Dr. Cortes has more information about microcephaly and the Zika virus on his website. The relationship between Pyriproxyfen and microcephaly does make sense since microcephaly is a rare condition. There have been few cases of microcephaly in countries that have reported cases of the Zika virus for years.
Another interesting fact associated with the Zika virus is out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 women tested positive for the virus. That means that Dr. Cortes and his staff at the Ministry of Health are getting closer to identifying the cause of the microcephaly outbreak.
Nonetheless, whatever the cause, Dr. Cortes recommends that pregnant women take extra precautions and avoid mosquito breeding grounds. The problem is, most pools of water can be breeding grounds for rhe Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dr. Cortes has more information about the Aedes aegypti mosquito and the Zika virus on his LinkedIn page. Visit the doctor’s Facebook page to friend him. Or follow him on Twitter.