Crit­i­cal to mon­i­tor ba­bies af­ter Zika, but how long?

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

WASH­ING­TON: More fed­eral money fi­nally is avail­able to fight Zika, even as the news wors­ens. Ba­bies who at first seem to have es­caped the virus’ dev­as­tat­ing hall­mark de­fect - an ab­nor­mally small head at birth - might not be out of the woods af­ter all. Brazil­ian doc­tors have counted a small num­ber of ba­bies who at birth had a nor­mal-sized head and only later were found to have prob­lems. They have de­layed neu­rode­vel­op­ment. At 5 months, one could use one hand but not the other. Later on, some even de­vel­oped that de­fect, called mi­cro­cephaly.

The brain and skull weren’t grow­ing prop­erly af­ter birth, in­stead of be­fore. “Mi­cro­cephaly is only the tip of the ice­berg, only the thing we see when the baby is born,” Dr Vanessa Van der Lin­den, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist in Re­cife, Brazil, told a meet­ing at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health where she out­lined a long list of Zikare­lated ab­nor­mal­i­ties. To chil­dren’s health ex­perts, the mes­sage is clear. In­tense study is needed of ba­bies born to Zika-in­fected moth­ers to learn the range of health prob­lems they may face.

“It is just crit­i­cal to eval­u­ate the en­tire child. Even in the child who does not have mi­cro­cephaly, that doesn’t mean no eval­u­a­tion is needed,” said Dr. Cather­ine Spong of the NIH’s Na­tional In­sti­tute of Child Health and Hu­man Devel­op­ment, which de­spite bud­get con­straints has be­gun re­search to bet­ter un­der­stand the full range of ab­nor­mal­i­ties they may face. “Some will be ap­par­ent at birth, but likely some will not be,” Dr Tom Frieden, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, told re­porters Mon­day. He called “the big­gest un­known” what will hap­pen to those ba­bies who don’t have an ob­vi­ous ab­nor­mal­ity at birth.

Af­ter months of par­ti­san bick­er­ing, Congress last week passed a bud­get bill that in­cludes $1.1 bil­lion to address the Zika cri­sis. It’s just over half the to­tal emer­gency money that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama re­quested last Fe­bru­ary. That was well be­fore cases in US states and ter­ri­to­ries rose to more than 25,000, and well be­fore mos­qui­toes started spread­ing the virus in Florida’s Mi­ami-Dade County. Fed­eral health of­fi­cials said Mon­day they’d race the money to the re­searchers and state health de­part­ments that need it as soon as pos­si­ble.

— AFP

MI­AMI BEACH: Peo­ple en­joy them­selves along Lin­coln Road, an open air shop­ping space, on the day of­fi­cials re­leased the lo­ca­tions of the sites where Zika virus was found in trapped mos­qui­toes.

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