US and Brazil scientists team up for Zika fight

Americans are working with local officials in Paraiba to find possible link between virus and microcephaly in babies.

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    There has been a steep rise in the number of babies born with malformations in areas in Brazil affected by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

    There are more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, with just under 700 confirmed ones.

    Going from home to home in Paraiba, in the country's northeast, doctors from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working with Brazilian health officials to find a possible link between the virus and microcephaly in babies.

    WHO: Link between Zika virus and birth defects not yet established

    "This is obviously something very important to know and we want to get the information out as soon as possible to be able to understand this, and create public health awareness," Dr Alexia Harrist of the CDC said.

    Whether linked to Zika or not, there are more babies now in need of special attention.

    In places like Paraiba, overwhelmed health workers are doing all they can to help families to cope - one day at a time.

    It has been 10 months since the first case of Zika was confirmed, but medical facilities in Paraiba are still struggling.

    The Brazilian government has been commended by the World Health Organization for doing its best to handle a difficult situation.

    However, its efforts do not seem to be making their way to the areas most affected.

    There is still a lack of information, particularly with regard to Zika's consequences.

    So little is known that government officials are asking everyone to do whatever they can to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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