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CDC Provides Updates on Zika-Related Birth Defects

MAY 13, 2016 | SARAH ANWAR
Dr. Cragan also went on to describe Fetal Brain Disruption Sequence (FBDS), which was observed before 1984, but not officially described until then. FBDS is described as “brain destruction resulting in [the] collapse of the fetal skull, microcephaly, scalp rugae, and neurological impairment.” It was noted that this phenotype was observed in Zika-infected infants in Brazil.

At the completion of the teleconference, both Dr. Rasmussen and Dr. Cragan answered questions regarding Zika and microcephaly. One question posed during the teleconference was whether the rumor that the rise in microcephaly cases in Brazil was due to exposure to a chemical in pesticides was true. It was explained that this theory has no relevance since the pesticide in question has been in use for years, which would beg the question, why are we seeing the increase in the number of congenital microcephaly cases now? Furthermore, this theory would not explain the birth defects seen in fetuses of mothers who were infected with the Zika virus either through travel to a country where there is active transmission or through sexual contact with an infected male. 

It was noted that the CDC does not know exactly how long Zika stays in the body, however, based on similar viruses and history of infections, for men, Zika can remain in bodily fluids (which can be transmitted to sexual partners) for up to 6 months, while for women it can stay in the body from 1 week to 10 days; however, it is recommended that women postpone conception for up to 8 weeks after the passing of a Zika infection.

Although Zika virus RNA has been detected in breastmilk, there are no known cases of viral transmission through breastfeeding. The CDC recommends the continuation of breastfeeding infants since the “benefits far outweigh the small risk of infection.”

The importance of communicating the threat of the Zika virus to the general public, informing them about the importance of reporting Zika symptoms or observed complications, and providing them with infection prevention methods continued to be emphasized. For any clinical concerns regarding Zika, the CDC will answer all questions emailed to ZikaMCH@cdc.gov. More information regarding microcephaly can be found on the CDC page, or the National Birth Defects Prevention Network page.
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