This is the effect of Microcephaly.
As noted in the diagram to the right, the typical head size of a child is much larger compared to a baby with Microcephaly. Microcephaly is defined as “abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.” This can lead to rather distinctive facial features. Microcephaly can occur when a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, resulting in a smaller head size. It can be an isolated condition, or it can be combined with other birth defects. Unfortunately, several problems can occur due to this condition. It really depends on the severity of the case. For example, they can have seizures, developmental delay (speech and other issues), intellectual disability, hearing loss, problems regarding balance and movement, difficulty swallowing, vision problems, and etcetera. The condition can range from mild to severe to even life threatening!
As for the cause of this birth defect? It’s been disputed, but many people believe that certain infections such as rubella or toxoplasmosis can contribute to this birth defect. It may have also been due to malnutrition or exposure to harmful substances such as toxic chemicals or certain drugs. People weren’t worried for a long time – it is a rare condition, after all. Not anymore. The number of cases of Microcephaly has blown up in Brazil – and it’s linked to the Zika virus.
Nowadays, most of us at least recognize the word “Zika” as its name has been plastered and engraved on every newspaper headlines and news websites. Some of us took the time to research what it’s all about, and for the others who haven’t- it’s a virus that’s spread by mosquito bites. It affects anyone, but the children in pregnant women will suffer the most. The Zika virus originated in the Zika forest of Uganda, hence its name. However, South America is suffering the most, in particular, Brazil and its neighboring countries. It has even started to spread to North America, where it has already arrived in several Southern states. The Zika virus is related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. Most people affected by the Zika virus often have fevers, rashes, joint pain and red eyes. For a couple of weeks, researchers have been contemplating if the Zika virus contributed to Microcephaly, and it has been confirmed today. There has been large cases of children with Microcephaly in Brazil, the country suffering terribly from the virus outbreak. In fact, the CDC has just confirmed the link.
“Researchers in Ljubljana, Slovenia, found the mosquito-borne virus in the brain tissue of a microcephalic fetus that had been carried by a 25-year-old European woman who had symptoms of the disease in the 13th week of her pregnancy, when she was living in Brazil.
The case, presented in detail, adds to growing evidence of the Zika virus’s role in a startling rise in the number of cases in Brazil of microcephaly. Brazilian and international health officials strongly suspect the virus is passed from infected mothers to their unborn babies through the placenta and have found the virus in the placentas and brains of fetuses and babies with microcephaly.”
Quoted from The Wall Street Journal article, it seems obvious that there is a clear link between the Zika virus and Microcephaly. However, scientists and researchers are still unsure of how the virus causes or is linked to the birth defect. To add to this dreadful situation, doctors are claiming that birth defects linked to the Zika virus are ‘more likely to be severe than simple microcephaly.’
Possible Cures: Many companies have already started research on finding a vaccine for the currently incurable Zika virus, however an Indian company, Bharat Biotech International Ltd. based in Hyderabad, has already claimed to found a vaccine. Other U.S health officials claim that we are years away from the Zika virus vaccine.
Luckily for the time being, the World Health Organisation has declared a global medical emergency to combat Zika, but pharmacists in Brazil and neighboring countries are starting to sell out of repellents. To add salt to injury, Brazil might even have to postpone their Summer Olympics, which starts in August.
Bottom Line: Hopefully, we can come to a final decision regarding a permanent solution to this hazardous virus.