Health officials in Brazil are appealing for women to not get pregnant because of an outbreak of a disease that causes birth defects in newborns.
Doctors in Brazil are reportedly asking women to put off pregnancy because of the Zika virus.
This terrible disease is spread by mosquitoes and causes microcephaly, an otherwise rare condition which causes dramatically shrunken skulls in newborns. The virus is believed to already have caused over 2,700 cases of birth defects in the country.
The number of reported cases nationwide has increased dramatically from 147 in 2014 to over 2,400 in 2015. Pernambuco state has become the most affected region with over 900 cases reported and the disease has caused six Brazilian states to declare a state of emergency.
The Brazilian Health Ministry said on its website it is ‘an unprecedented situation, unprecedented in world scientific research’ and estimate the latest outbreak as between 0.5 and 1.5 million cases in the country altogether.
Initially the Zika virus cases were registered in north-eastern Brazil, in states like Pernambuco, although more cases have since been reported in southern regions, including the densely populated states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
In fact, Zika virus cases have been registered in 20 out of the nation’s 27 states.
Angela Rocha, a pediatric infection expert at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital, told CNN:
These are new-borns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined… Here in Pernambuco, we’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected.
It’s a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that’s what we’re recommending.
Hundreds of pregnant women with suspected Zika syndrome are now being monitored, while other pregnant women are strongly recommended to stay indoors and use insect repellent.
The World Health Organization has issued an alert about the Zika situation in Brazil.