In her career as a pediatrician, Dr. Erin Staples has seen only the occasional case of microcephaly, the birth defect where babies are born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.

Then, last Thursday, at a hospital in Brazil, she saw three babies with the devastating defect all in one waiting room.

“It was sobering,” said Staples.

Staples is an expert in infectious diseases and she’s in Brazil, a country hit hard by the Zika virus, to lead the first large-scale investigation into the link between Zika and microcephaly.

When the disease detectives are done with this historic research, they hope to shed light on these two crucial questions: What are the chances that a woman who contracts Zika during her pregnancy will have a baby with microcephaly? And are there factors that increase or decrease the chances that she will have a baby with the defect?

Disease detectives hunt Zika virus-microcephaly connection in Brazil“Understanding the answers to these questions is important, as the size and scope of this outbreak will continue, since no one has immunity,” Staples said.

“This is a very important moment for us to be here.”

So far in america, 82 persons have contracted Zika while abroad and then traveled back into the country, based on the Centers for Disease Avoidance and Control. There’s not really a single known case of someone contracting Zika from a mosquito in the usa.

But experts expect that to improve as the elements warms up and mosquitoes turn out in full force. The species that generally carries Zika is just about all within southern parts of america often.

When the condition detectives are finished with this historic analysis, they desire to shed light on both of these crucial questions: What exactly are the chances a female who contracts Zika during her pregnancy could have a baby with microcephaly? And so are there factors that boost or reduce the chances that she’ll possess a baby with the defect?

“Understanding the answers to these questions is important, as the size and scope of this outbreak will continue, since no one has immunity,” Staples said.

“This is a very important moment for us to be here.”

So far in the United States, 82 people have contracted Zika while abroad and then traveled back into the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s not a single known case of someone contracting Zika from a mosquito in the United States.

But researchers expect that to change as the weather warms up and mosquitoes come out in full force. The species that commonly carries Zika is most often found in southern parts of the United States.

They’ll ask the mothers a broad range of questions, such as whether they had symptoms of Zika during their pregnancies, and how much seafood they ate, since exposure to mercury might play a role in the development of microcephaly.

They hope to have results of their study by around April, CDC spokesman David Daigle said.

Aubree Gordon, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said a variety of factors could cause microcephaly. Genetics might play a role, for example, or perhaps the mothers of babies with microcephaly had another infection in addition to Zika during or prior to pregnancy.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about Zika, and it’s important to learn as much as we can,” she said.

Comments

comments