Birth defects linked to virus still rising in Brazil

The cases of babies born with unusually small heads continue to rise in Brazil where researchers said they had found evidence linking the increase to the mosquito-born Zika virus spreading through the Americas.

The Ministry of Health said the number of suspected cases of microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which babies are born with smaller craniums and brains, increased to 3,893 by January 16 from 3,530 cases 10 days earlier.

The number of reported deaths of deformed babies rose to 49, ministry officials said. So far, authorities have only confirmed six cases of microcephaly where the infant was infected with the virus. The surge of cases since the new virus was first detected last year in Brazil led the ministry to link it to the foetal deformations and warn pregnant women to use insect repellent.

El Salvador has moved to urge women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018 to avoid their children developing birth defects from the virus.

It is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever, and Chikungunya viruses.


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