Thus far, the majority of reporting has been focused on Zika’s negative effects on pregnant women, as the virus has been shown to cause the birth defect microcephaly, which can cause babies to be born with underdeveloped brains and cognitive problems.
The birth defect can occur when the baby’s brain does not develop properly during pregnancy or stops growing after birth, which reduces their head size.
CDC is among numerous health organisations that warn pregnant women to use mosquito repellent and avoid travelling to Zika-affected countries.
“We believe microcephaly will be a part of a range of birth defects that may affect women infected at a particular time or at any time during pregnancy”, Frieden told reporters Wednesday.
Zika is transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which also spreads chikungunya, and dengue.
In February, WHO declared Zika virus a public health emergency of worldwide concern.
Establishing this causal relationship between Zika and fetal brain defects is an important step in driving additional prevention efforts, in focusing research activities, and in reinforcing the need for direct communication about the risks of Zika.
There have been more than 60,000 reported cases of Zika infections in Colombia, including more than 11,000 in pregnant women, the national health institute said last week.
Researchers are interesting learning why some cases of the virus result in birth defects while others do not. Another study in Brazil indicated that 30% had some kind of abnormality detected in ultrasounds, said Sonja Rasmussen, director of the CDC’s division of public health information and dissemination. The virus outbreak is most widespread in Brazil, where as many as 1.3 million cases have been reported. They also discovered more direct evidence in the form of the virus or its genetic traces.