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CDC Confirms Zika Causes Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects

APR 14, 2016 | SARAH ANWAR
With the CDC’s confirmation of the effects of Zika, it is now certain that Zika is more dangerous than initially believed.

In an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the Zika virus is very likely a cause of microcephaly and other birth defects.

After meticulously analyzing existing evidence, including a number of recently published studies and established scientific criteria, the CDC scientists determined that, “no single piece of evidence provides conclusive proof that Zika virus infection is a cause of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects. Rather, increasing evidence from a number of recently published studies and a careful evaluation using established scientific criteria supports the authors’ conclusions.”

With this report, the CDC hopes to establish grounds to take further preventive measures through research activities and efforts to educate the public about the risks of Zika. Ongoing research carried out by the CDC hopes to shed more light on the virus in an effort to learn more about the vector-borne illness and reduce the risk for pregnant women and their fetuses.
Although, there have been a number of women who tested positive for the Zika virus while pregnant who did give birth to healthy babies, women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, need to be aware of the possibility of birth defects and protect themselves from infection.
 
It is more important than ever that pregnant women avoid travel to Zika infested regions. If a pregnant woman lives in or must travel to an area where local Zika transmission is prevalent, she should discuss this with her primary healthcare provider as well as take the necessary precautions.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the CDC commented on the findings of this report, “This study marks a turning point in the Zika outbreak. It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly. We are also launching further studies to determine whether children who have microcephaly born to mothers infected by the Zika virus is the tip of the iceberg of what we could see in damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems… We've now confirmed what mounting evidence has suggested, affirming our early guidance to pregnant women and their partners to take steps to avoid Zika infection and to health care professionals who are talking to patients every day. We are working to do everything possible to protect the American public."

Recently, the CDC held an Action Plan Summit in Atlanta, Georgia where preparation plans for a possible outbreak in the United States, including the effects of Zika and vector surveillance and control, were discussed with state health officials.
 
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