In an update on the massive increases of the condition, microcephaly, in northeast Brazil, Brazilian health officials now put the tally at 739 suspected cases of microcephaly, identified in 160 municipalities in nine states in Brazil.

This is up from 399 cases reported by the World Health Organization just a few days ago.

Public domain image/Deyvid Aleksandr Raffo Setti
Public domain image/Deyvid Aleksandr Raffo Setti

The Ministry of Health reports Pernambuco state, the first to report casesstill has seen the most cases at 487.  Next are the states of Paraíba (96), Sergipe (54), Rio Grande do Norte (47), Piauí (27), Alagoas (10), Ceará (9), Bahia (8) and Goiás (01). Among the total number of cases was reported a suspicious death in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. This case is under investigation to determine the cause of death.

The investigation of cases is being conducted by the Ministry of Health together with state and local health departments, with the support of national and international institutions. Since the emergence of cases, the health ministry has sent to state health departments guidance on the notification process, surveillance and assistance to pregnant women and infants affected by microcephaly.

The cause of the increases in microcephaly is still under investigation.

The Health Ministry says  The Flavivirus Laboratory of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz Fiocruz / RJ, as part of the investigation, established the presence of the Zika virus genome in samples from two pregnant women from Paraíba, whose fetuses were confirmed with microcephaly by ultrasound exams. The genetic material (RNA) virus was detected in amniotic fluid samples using RT-PCR in real time.

They are clear to point out the finding do not unequivocally establish causation between Zika virus and microcephaly.

Health officials say it is important that pregnant women keep monitoring and prenatal consultations, with the completion of all tests recommended by your doctor. The Ministry of Health reinforces the guidance of not consume alcohol or any other drugs, not use drugs without medical prescription and avoid contact with people with fever or infection.

It is also important that pregnant women adopt measures to reduce the presence of disease-transmitting mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites, and protect themselves from mosquito exposure, keeping doors and windows closed or screened, wear pants and long-sleeved shirt and use repellents allowed for pregnant women.