Zika Update: CDC Officially Confirms Zika Virus Causes Birth Defects

Apr 14, 2016 05:03 AM EDT

After being linked to a couple of disorders, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now officially confirmed that Zika virus can cause a rare birth defect called microcephaly.

"This study marks a turning point in the Zika outbreak. It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly," said Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC in their press release.

"We've now confirmed what mounting evidence has suggested, affirming our early guidance to pregnant women and their partners to take steps to avoid Zika infection and to health care professionals who are talking to patients every day. We are working to do everything possible to protect the American public," Frieden added.

CDC has also announced that it will continue to launch further studies to understand if children who have microcephaly born from Zika-infected mothers may have more damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems.

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The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that women infected with the Zika virus have higher risks of giving birth to babies with microcephaly. However, it doesn't mean that every expecting mother with the Zika virus will give birth to a child with microcephaly.

New York Times reports that the increasing number of Zika virus and microcephaly casualties could pressure Congress to allocate more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding, which was requested by U.S. President Barack Obama.

CDC has no plans in changing its recommendations and guidelines against the Zika virus. Pregnant women should avoid Zika virus hot spots. They also advised men who went to any of the Zika virus-infected areas to abstain having intercourse with their pregnant wife because Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.

Other health hazards that are being associated with the Zika virus are the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome and a neurological disorder called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM).

In hopes to prevent the onslaught of Zika virus, Canadian innovators have recently invented the "ovillanta" a cheap and environment-friendly mosquito trap from old care tires that is seven times more effective than standard mosquito traps.

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