WHO, CDC, Other Scientists Continue Research Into Possible Causal Link Between Zika, Microcephaly

CIDRAP News: WHO addresses Zika fears as more microcephaly findings surface
“The World Health Organization (WHO) [Wednesday] released a comprehensive backgrounder on Zika virus issues related to childbearing-age women, covering reports of sexual transmission and contraception resources, as researchers promised open data sharing and reported new Zika-related microcephaly findings…” (Schnirring, 2/10).

Nature: Proving Zika link to birth defects poses huge challenge
“Public health authorities are investigating whether the Zika virus has caused an apparent surge in the number of infants born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, in at least seven countries. But conclusively determining whether the mosquito-borne virus is to blame could take months to years, researchers say…” (Hayden, 2/9).

Reuters: WHO advises women on Zika protection but no travel advisories
“The World Health Organization advised women on Wednesday on how to protect themselves from Zika, particularly if pregnant, but also reassured them that most women in areas affected by the mosquito-borne virus will give birth to ‘normal infants’…” (Nebehay/Kelland, 2/10).

USA TODAY: CDC confirms link between Zika, microcephaly in Brazilian babies who died
“The Centers for Disease Control has identified the Zika virus in the tissue of two babies who died in Brazil from microcephaly — the strongest link yet between the virus and the birth defect that has stricken developing fetuses, the CDC director told a House panel Wednesday…” (Kelly, 2/10).

Wall Street Journal: New Study Links Zika Virus to Microcephaly
“A study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine provides new evidence of a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with undersized brains and skulls. Researchers in Ljubljana, Slovenia, found the mosquito-borne virus in the brain tissue of a microcephalic fetus that had been carried by a 25-year-old European woman who had symptoms of the disease in the 13th week of her pregnancy, when she was living in Brazil. … The findings in the new study ‘do not provide absolute proof that Zika virus causes microcephaly,’ Eric J. Rubin, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote in an accompanying editorial. But it ‘makes the link stronger,’ they said, noting that proving causation in certain situations can be difficult…” (McKay, 2/10).

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