News / Health

    Research Strengthens Link Between Zika, Birth Defects

    A scientist displays Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside the International Atomic Energy Agency's insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, Feb. 10, 2016.
    A scientist displays Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside the International Atomic Energy Agency's insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, Feb. 10, 2016.
    VOA News

    A report in the New England Journal of Medicine presents new evidence strengthening the link between the Zika virus and an increase in certain birth defects.

    The report published Wednesday by a group of Slovenian researchers was accompanied by an editorial by a group of U.S. health experts who support the conclusions made by the Slovenian study.

    Professor Tatjana Avsic Zupanc, who headed the study at University Medical Center in Ljubljana, told Reuters that her team's findings may provide the most compelling evidence yet that birth defects associated with the Zika virus may be caused by replication of the virus in the brain.

    The study centered on an expectant mother who was infected with the Zika virus and aborted the fetus after an ultrasound showed signs of severe fetal abnormalities.

    The study said the mother had no family history of such abnormalities and had not been exposed to any other viruses and other infections known to cause such abnormalities.

    The doctors in the study performed an autopsy on the fetus and were able to identify the complete genetic sequence of the Zika virus. They also noted that the virus had only attacked the brain and no other fetal organs.

    The researchers said the brain tissue of the fetus was found to have a high level of Zika virus RNA, in addition to containing a complete Zika genome sequence -- two findings that present "strong evidence" that Zika caused the abnormalities.

    But the researchers noted that further study should be done to confirm a link.

    Growing concern over Zika

    The Zika virus has risen in prominence with news that Brazil has seen a rise in cases of microcephaly, or underdeveloped brains, in newborns that coincides with the rise in Zika virus infections.

    Some health experts are recommending pregnant women, or women trying to get pregnant, avoid travel to Brazil -- which is preparing to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

    U.S. public health officials testifying before congressional committees Wednesday said much of the anti-Zika effort must focus on mosquito control.  They said southern parts of the United States, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico harbor the mosquito that spreads the virus and are vulnerable to outbreaks of the disease.

    Dozens of global health professionals — including researchers,  academic journals and funding organizations — have committed to sharing data on the virus.

    In a statement released Wednesday and signed by more than 30 organizations, the groups say they want to ensure that any information relevant to combating Zika is made freely and openly available to the international community as “soon as is feasibly possible.”

    Signatories include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, PLOS (Public Library of Science), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (along with the Chinese equivalent), the JAMA  (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Researchers who signed the agreement were assured that their work would still be eligible for publication in science journals.

    Signs and symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, headache, conjunctivitis and pain in the joints, muscles, and eyes.  It usually results in mild illness, but the virus poses a greater danger to pregnant women because of the possible link to birth defects.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ricardo from: Brazil
    February 11, 2016 8:15 AM
    The role of rich countries in helping to combat these diseases should be to develop vaccines and provide appropriate medical training in affected countries. Sending money is no solution, and might cause the opposite effect due to corruption. In addition, it runs the risk of creating a "mosquito industry" in which corrupt politicians will rest with the extra dollars as a source of income.

    The fight against mosquitoes in impoverished countries is more complicated than it seems. The lack of infrastructure, poor sanitation, garbage on the streets, inadequate afforestation in cities, among other reasons, are the real responsible for the situation. In my opinion, the mosquito and its diseases are consequence, and not the cause of the problem.

    It would be great if the 2016 Olympic games could be transferred to another country. There is no reason to put the health and lives of innocent tourists at risk.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora