Doctor Sergio Cortes and Other Doctors Warn Mothers about Zika Virus

Mothers in Brazil are dealing with a mosquito-borne illness called the zika virus. Many of these women, like Marilla Lima of Natal, Brazil, wonder what the future holds for their sons and daughters who are born with microcephaly. According to the National Public Radio, children born with microcephaly have extremely small heads and severe brain damage.
Zika virus arrived in Brazil less than a year ago. Marilla, a lawyer, was having a normal pregnancy when she started to feel like she had the flu. Going to the doctors for what she assumed was a normal checkup and treatment for the flu proved that she had been bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. Sonograms showed that her son had a small head. When he was born, doctors at Januário Cicco Maternity Hospital determined the boy had microcephaly because of the zika virus. Doctors at the hospital are treating 17 other cases.
Marilla says that the Brazilian government has done very little to stop the disease, although they have finally sent the army to try to eradicate mosquitos carrying the disease. Marilla’s only hope lies in doctors like Doctor Sergio Cortes, who along with colleagues are trying to develop a vaccine to protect women from the disease.
Dr. Cortes says that the Ministry of Health is working with the World Health Organization to try to combat the situation. He says that the northern part of Brazil is the most affected with over 1400 cases being reported across 14 different Brazilian states. Cases have been found in more than 300 different cities greatly stretching governmental resources. Outside of Brazil, the Zika virus has been found by noticias in nine Latin American countries including Mexico and Columbia.
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control has issued a warning for all pregnant women to avoid traveling to an area where the Zika virus has been confirmed. If a woman believes that she has contacted the virus, then her serum or amniotic fluid should be checked. If the virus is found to be present, then the fetus should be carefully monitored via serial ultrasounds every three weeks. If problems occur, then the Center for Disease Control suggests referring the mother to a pregnancy management infectious disease specialist.
Compounding the problem for mothers like Marilla, Brazil does not seem equipped to handle the onslaught of children with microcephaly. Children with this disease are often born blind and deaf. They can be very difficult to soothe and usually have a poor eating mechanism leading to problems with breastfeeding. Marilla says that she gets very little sleep and often wonders if she will awake to find her son dead since children with this condition seldom live to see their tenth birthday.