Friday, February 19, 2016

Zika Virus: What Do We Know?

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Since October 2014 almost 4000 babies have been born in Brazil with underdeveloped brains and smaller heads. Although not proven, doctors suspect that infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy is causing these abnormalities. The virus is spreading at an alarming rate across South and Central America and the WHO has warned that all the Americas are at risk of the virus.

The symptoms seem fairly mild – a flu like illness, sometimes with soreness of the eyes, yet it appears to have devastating consequences on the developing foetus. Some areas have declared a state of emergency, doctors have described it as "a pandemic in progress" and some are even advising women in affected countries to delay getting pregnant. Prof Jonathan Ball tells us about the virus and its spread while Prof Trudie Lang on what science can do; she runs neglected tropical clinical trials in developing countries.


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