In response to the current Zika virus outbreak in Brazil and the surge of microcephaly cases in the northeast, São Paulo health officials want to test all pregnant women in the state for Zika virus.

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

According to Brazilian news source, (computer translated), the country’s largest state prepares a plan to tackle the potential future problem in the state (São Paulo is south of the current microcephaly situation) by including tests for all State pregnant women and to battle the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of not only Zika, but dengue and chikungunya.

State Secretary of Health, David Uip, who will present the plan to the Governor, said, “We have to deal with this issue differently than we are now. We are facing three diseases and it is very unlikely that (Zika) does not come to São Paulo. The state has to be prepared for what will surely happen”.

The plan would require large amounts of resources as in 2014, for example, more than 600,000 pregnancies were recorded in the state.

The secretary said the Adolfo Lutz Institute is developing, based on samples provided by the Ministry of Health, a test that can check, even in people who did not have symptoms, if there was infection Zika. Currently, the only available diagnostic test for the disease is pointing to the presence of the virus while the person is still sick. The new test, which uses the ELISA could detect the presence of antibodies against the virus, indicating that infection has already occurred.

“I want this test to be incorporated into the prenatal workup for all pregnant women in São Paulo. And in cases where the test is positive, it will be trigger Women’s Health personnel to provide morphological examinations for the pregnant woman and to provided access to  to the emotional support after the child’s birth if she has some malformation”, Uip said.

As of 30 November 2015, 1,248 cases(99.7/100,000 live births) of microcephaly, including 7 deaths, have been reported in 14 states of Brazil, which are under investigation.

On 28 November 2015, the Brazil Ministry of Health established the relationship between the increase in occurrence of microcephaly and Zika virus infection through the detection of Zika virus genome in the blood and tissue samples of a baby from the state of Pará. The newbornpresented microcephaly and other congenital anomalies and died within five minutes of being born. The confirmation of the presence of the viral genome was provided by the Evandro Chagas Institute, national reference laboratory for arboviruses in Belém, Pará.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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