Increase Cases of Zika-Related Microcephaly Seen in Colombia

Severe microcephaly (left) vs typical head size. <i>Photo Credit: CDC via Wikimedia Commons.</i>
Severe microcephaly (left) vs typical head size. Photo Credit: CDC via Wikimedia Commons.

HealthDay News — Colombia is now experiencing a sharp increase in cases of infant microcephaly, according to research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A team led by Margaret Honein, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta, reported that between January 31, 2016, and mid-November 2016, there were 476 cases of microcephaly in Colombia, a four-fold increase from the same period in 2015. There were 9 times as many cases of microcephaly in July 2016 than in July 2015, the researchers said.

The researchers also found that the peak in cases of microcephaly in Colombia occurred about 6 months after the highest numbers of new Zika infections were reported. This suggests that the greatest risk for Zika-related microcephaly likely arises in the first half of pregnancy -- especially the first trimester and early in the second trimester.

The findings show that an increase in microcephaly cases is not restricted to Brazil, and that other countries with Zika outbreaks are likely to have large increases in microcephaly and other Zika-related birth defects, according to a news release from the CDC.

Reference

Cuevas EL, Tong VT, Rozo N, et al. Preliminary report of microcephaly potentially associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy - Colombia, January-November 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65:1409-1413. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6549e1

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