Suspected cases of micrencephaly on the rise in southeast Brazil
By Sumaia Villela
Suspected cases of microcephaly have risen in the southeast Brazil in the past five weeks, and even outnumbered, by a small margin (172 against 171), the cases in the northeast. Data were released by Eduardo Hage Carmo, director of the Epidemiological Surveillance Department of the Health Ministry.
According to him, in total, the northeast still accounts for about 75% of babies with head sizes smaller than 32 cm, which is currently the size established for reporting cases. But, according to Carmo, the number of children born with the brain malformation has increased more in the southeast than in the other regions of the country.
He gave the information this Monday (Jun. 20) during a State Seminar on Surveillance and Response to Arbovirus infections and complications, in Recife, capital of Pernambuco state. According to the director, the number of new cases has decreased in the northeast since the end of last year, while in the southeast, especially in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the movement is in the opposite direction, and records of suspected microcephaly have grown.
In the last five weeks, in São Paulo alone—Brazil's most populous state—104 babies were reported as suspected of having microcephaly, against 46 in Rio de Janeiro. In the neighboring states of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais, also in the Southeast, the total added up to 11 cases each.
“The cases are probably connected to the outbreak of infections with Zika virus, which is taking place in the Southeast after it did in the Northeast. We see an outbreak in the Northeast in the first semester, up to June and July. In the Southeast, however, the outbreak is seen from November, December  to January and February . There's a time period between the actual infection with Zika and the moment when microcephaly is reported,” Director Eduardo Hage explained. In his view, the number of cases in the region is likely to take up a rising trend.
The last report released by the Health Ministry announced that, in 2016, 54,803 cases of Zika were notified in the Southeast, compared to 51,065 in the Northeast.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta / Fabrício Ferreira