Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP
The Zika virus is believed to cause multiple devastating effects on a fetus, if the mother is infected while pregnant. The most common condition reported is microcephaly (an abnormally small-shaped head that prevents normal brain growth). However many other impairments can occur beyond the skull.
This week the CDC recognized the cluster of diseases by defining “Congenital Zika Syndrome” or CZS. The 5 types of birth defects in CZS include:
- Skull abnormalities such as severe microcephaly – a very small shaped head with a partially collapsed skull, deformity of the remaining skull components, overlapping skin and neurological impairment.
- Brain abnormalities – thinning of the cortex, reduced white matter, calcification deposits, increased fluid spaces.
- Eye abnormalities – scarring of the macula that creates fine vision, cataracts, optic nerve shrinking
- Limb abnormalities – club foot, restriction of limb movements and contractures
- Neurological abnormalities – difficulty with hearing, vision, swallowing, movement, seizures, irritability, crying and more.
The Washington Post created this graphic to summarize CZS:
Although Zika could cause devastation in any trimester, the most dangerous time for a fetus to be infected is during the first trimester and early into the second.
As of October 27, 2016, the CDC reports 1005 pregnant women in the US and District of Columbia and 2263 in US territories. The number can be an underestimation if women are not screened for Zika and do not have symptoms to prompt them to be tested.
The CDC is reporting 4128 total cases of Zika in the US and District of Columbia (the majority of them travel related) and over 30,000 cases in US territories.
For more information from the CDC on Zika transmission, guidelines and statistics, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/index.html
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician