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Rapid spread of Zika virus in the Americas raises alarm

Mosquito-borne disease linked to birth defect is pushing northward from Brazil

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3:08pm, January 22, 2016
boy holding baby with microcephaly

AN OUTBREAK CONTINUES  A Brazilian boy holds his baby brother, born in 2015 with a birth defect called microcephaly. Scientists believe the condition may be linked to maternal infections with the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The latest virus to break out of the tropics may be the most frightening.

Zika virus, which has already blazed across Brazil and pressed northward into Central America and Mexico, now is poised to jump to the United States. Infection typically causes minor or even no symptoms. But in pregnant women, it’s been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which leaves babies with abnormally small heads and partially developed brains (SN Online: 12/2/15).

The mysterious tropical virus is an arbovirus, one of many that are spread by insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. With the rise in international travel, the rapid emergence — and reemergence — of little known arboviruses such as Zika may be the new normal, Anthony Fauci and his colleague David Morens suggest January 13 in the New England

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