Brazil, US start joint study on link between microcephaly and Zika

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Paula Laboissière reports from Agência Brasil

Brazil's Health Ministry and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are starting today (Feb. 16) a control study on microcephaly tied to the Zika virus.

The study aims to estimate the proportion of newborns with microcephaly associated with Zika and the risks brought about by the infection. The research will be conducted in Paraíba state and is expected to engage 17 technicians from the CDC and nine from the ministry, in addition to technicians from the state government.

In a note, the ministry announced that the CDC team has already landed in Brazil. Meetings will be held with local authorities, alongside interviews and the collection of blood samples for complimentary testing on Zika and other diseases, like cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis.

The beginning of the study will be announced by Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Castro to the 24 EU ambassadors during a meeting today in Brasília.


The initiative, the statement reads, will last 50 days and include the collection of data from women who recently gave birth to babies with or without microcephaly in Paraíba. For each microcephaly case, three women whose baby does not have the disease will be chosen from the same region. Approximately 800 patients are expected to be evaluated. The study should be concluded by April.

A survey from the Health Ministry shows that Paraíba is the second state with the largest number of suspected microcephaly cases associated with the Zika virus, following Pernambuco. The state reported 756 cases, 54 of which confirmed, 275 ruled off, and 427 under investigation.

On February 23 and 24, World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan is expected to visit Brazil to closely follow the government's efforts against the Zika virus and microcephaly.

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira

Edited by: Kleber Sampaio / Nira Foster