ECDC reports potential link between Zika virus, GBS and microcephaly
This announcement follows increasing cases of Zika infections in parts of Central and South America. The ECDC reports that the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported approximately 1,248 cases of microcephaly beginning in October of this year. Between 2010 and 2014, there have been between 150 and 200 cases reported on an annual average. The ministry has since declared the situation a public health emergency and is currently investigating links between the virus and the condition.
Microcephaly refers to infants born with smaller heads, which typically results in abnormal brain development. The Zika virus infection links to GBS and other neurological conditions. The Mayo Clinic states that GBS is a result of the immune system attacking the nervous system, resulting in paralysis.
The Zika virus is spread through the bite of mosquitoes and presents itself as a mild disease. Conditions like microcephaly and GBS are thought to be connected with the virus if the mother is affected during the pregnancy.
Specific treatments and vaccinations are not currently available, and the ECDC warns travelers to take protective measures against mosquitoes when visiting affected areas.