A little-known virus spread by mosquitoes is causing one of the most alarming health crises to hit Brazil in decades, officials here warn: Thousands of cases of brain damage, in which babies are born with unusually small heads.
Many pregnant women across Brazil are in a panic. The government, under withering criticism for not acting sooner, is urging them to take every precaution to avoid mosquito bites. One official even suggested that women living in areas where mosquitoes are especially prevalent postpone having children.
“If she can wait, then she should, ” said Mr Claudio Maierovitch, director of the department of surveillance of communicable diseases at Brazil’s health ministry.
The alarm stems from a huge surge in babies with microcephaly, a rare, incurable condition in which their heads are abnormally small. Brazilian officials have registered at least 2, 782 cases this year, compared with just 147 in 2014 and 167 the year before.