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Zika Causes Microcephaly
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Zika Causes Microcephaly

After several weeks of study and debate, US health officials concluded that infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy causes the birth defect microcephaly, a finding that experts hope will refocus attention on efforts to stop infections and prompt US lawmakers to fund emergency prevention efforts.
“There isn’t any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters in a conference on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
US and world health officials have been saying for weeks that mounting scientific evidence points to the mosquito-borne virus as the likely cause of the alarming rise in microcephaly in Zika-hit areas of Brazil. It had not been declared as the definitive cause until now.
The announcement comes at a critical time for the Obama Administration, which has been urging the Republican-controlled Congress to grant nearly $1.9 billion in emergency funds to fight the virus, which is already affecting Puerto Rico and is expected to hit parts of the United States with the coming of mosquito-friendly warmer weather.
In February, the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency based on its suspected link to thousands of cases in Brazil of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size and underdeveloped brains.
The declaration kicked off a flurry of studies to prove a link. The CDC said its latest conclusions came after all necessary scientific criteria had been met to make the official call.
“The data are there. The evidence is there. The pieces of information we have now makes us confident,” said Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, director of the CDC division of public health information and lead author of a New England Journal of Medicine article outlining evidence.
CDC now believes microcephaly is just one of a range of serious birth defects caused by Zika. In Brazil, officials have confirmed more than 1,100 cases of microcephaly, and considers most of them to be related to Zika infections in the mothers. It is investigating more than 3,800 additional suspected cases.

 

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