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Top 5 Contagion® News Articles for the Week of February 26, 2017

The top five articles for the week of February 26, 2017 include those in which researchers provide a closer look at how two devastating outbreaks unfolded: the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil and the Ebola outbreak in Africa. In addition, as the 2016-2017 flu season winds down, experts provided additional information on cases that are still lingering and the effects that have been seen from the virus this season. Contagion®’s newest contributor, Thelma King Thiel, RN, BA, discussed the missing link in eliminating viral hepatitis C and B; and finally, coverage of the World Health Organization’s list of the top 12 priority pathogens rounds out the list.

#5: A Closer Look at the Zika Virus Epidemic in Brazil 

At The First International Conference on Zika Virus last week in Washington, DC, researchers provided attendees with insight into how this devastating virus has impacted so many countries around the world.
One such session was presented by Contagion® Editorial Board member, Pedro Fernando de Costa Vasconcelos, MD, PhD, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Arbovirus and Research, Evandro Chagas Institute. Dr. Vasconcelos presented on the impact of the Zika virus in Brazil during 2015 and 2016. He remarked on the difficulties of first defining the diagnosis of the virus due to its similarities with Dengue and Chikungunya, two arboviruses that were also circulating in Brazil at the time and that cause similar symptoms.
In addition, Dr. Vasconcelos explained that the increase in Zika infections, coupled with the increase in incidence of microcephaly, prompted speculation of the correlation between the two, but further evidence was needed to confirm it. The Ministry of Health (MoH) was finally able to establish the relationship, “through the detection of Zika virus genome in the blood and tissue samples of a baby from the state of Pará.” This finding then prompted an epidemiological alert by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and WHO.

The MoH estimated that the range of cases of Zika virus infection in 2015 was between 500,000 and 1.5 million, with about 200,000 cases in 2016. In addition, the average microcephaly birth rate per 100,000 live births in Brazil was 7.4 in Paraíba, in the northeast region of Brazil; Dr. Vasconcelos reported that this number increased to 436.2 in 2015. A number of other northeastern states saw staggering increases as well.
Continue reading more on the first confirmed case of Zika-related microcephaly and the history of the Zika virus in Brazil here.

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