The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is informing healthcare professionals about a possible association between the Zika virus outbreak and babies born with microcephaly in Brazil.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Brazil received initial reports of an increase in the number of babies being born with microcephaly in October 2015. Cases of microcephaly were about 10 times higher than what the country sees in a year. Some babies with microcephaly tested positive for Zika virus infection but some affected babies also tested negative on the same test. 

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The first case of Zika virus disease in Brazil was reported in May 2015. Thereafter, the virus spread to many Brazilian states and other Latin American countries. Zika virus is transmitted mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Perinatal and possible sexual transmission have also been reported; transfusion-associated transmission is also possible. 

The CDC is not aware of any literature that reports higher cases of microcephaly linked with other similar viral (eg, flaviviral) diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. It is recommended that all travelers to Brazil and Latin America—especially pregnant women—should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to reduce the risk of infection with Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses (eg, dengue, chikungunya).  

Currently, no specific antiviral treatment is available for Zika virus disease. Symptomatic treatment may include rest, fluids, antipyretics, and analgesics. Aspirin and other NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue diagnosis can be excluded. Healthcare professionals are encouraged to report suspected cases to their state or local health departments. 

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