The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have set all doubts to rest regarding the links between the dreaded Zika virus and birth defects, particularly microcephaly, thus corroborating what people have believed all along. There is conclusive evidence now to state that Zika does cause birth defects although federal health officials also contend that most of the babies conceived during the Zika pandemic in Latin America have been born healthy.
Paradoxically, although the mosquito borne virus can cause serious brain defects in infants, it is usually mild in adults although this is still a grey area and more research is necessary to conclusively ascertain whether Zika can cause neurological conditions in adults, including the Guillain-Barre syndrome, cases of which have spiked in some countries in the wake of the Zika outbreak.
Although the W.H.O. did indicate that evidence has substantiated the links between the infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome, C.D.C. officials aver that since the syndrome can be triggered by other infections, further research is needed to corroborate the links.
Despite the new revelations on Zika, Federal health officials have shied away from advising women to refrain from getting pregnant although they do recommend access to contraception.
Latest figures indicate that some 700 people in the U.S have been infected with the Zika virus including 69 pregnant women of which half of the cases have been traced to Puerto Rico while most of the other American cases have occurred in people who have visited South America. However, despite these alarming figures, U.S officials have found that people have not been taking precautions and are still largely ignorant about the potential dangers of Zika.
Moreover, studies now indicate that mosquitoes that can transmit Zika are present in 30 states during the warmer months, which is a much larger swath of America than what was earlier believed. Florida and Texas are believed to be especially vulnerable, particularly the urban areas and those neighborhoods where the absence of air conditioning and open windows make people more vulnerable to the mosquitoes.
Besides birth defects like microcephaly, a host of unanswered questions remain such as whether Zika can lead to other fetal brain problems like calcifications inside the skull or damage to other organs or how likely are the chances of women infected with Zika having brain-damaged babies, questions which will only be answered after a lot more extensive studies across continents.