BBC: WHO microcephaly expert We must assume that this can spread

Using W.H.O’s microcephaly experts figures, we should have between 40- 66 thousand cases of microcephaly in Brazil for this rare condition and between 64-107 thousand in the US. Liar, liar… fire!.

3 February 2016
Talking Head
Dr Anthony Costello
BBC reporter: …joining me is Dr Anthony Costello, he is one of the W.H.O’s experts on microcephaly, there aren’t many of you are there? tell us about em, what we actually know about this link between microcephaly and zika?

Talking head: well microcephaly is a rare condition, erm, normally it affects maybe 1 in 3 to 5 thousand babies and what we’ve picked up is a surge in cases of microcephaly in two areas where zika virus has broken out.
First in French Polynesia last year and now to a much greater extent in Brazil, particularly in one area of Brazil.
Urm, we don’t know about cases yet in other areas, but remember if there’s been an infection of zika virus early in pregnancy it may take several months before you pick up that surge in the number of cases

BBC reporter: so what happens now, in terms of establishing this link, clearly there will be a lot of women, mothers who are very worried about this?

Talking head: “We must assume, given global travel and the like, that this could spread into many other populations as well. First we are trying to get a definition of microcephaly that can be used and standardized. We need to know the risks and the outcome from microcephaly. Not all children with microcephaly will go on to have severe developmental problems but most will have.
We’ve got to establish the link with zika virus. We desperately need to have better diagnostics, so that we can look very carefully, if you get pregnant and you get infected what is the risk of having microcephaly, at the moment we don’t exactly know what that is.

BBC reporter: so what advise would you give people, particularly pregnant women who are are thinking of going on holiday or going for the olympics or carnival?

Talking head: It’s bound to be very scary at the moment. The first thing is that this is still a relatively rare occurrence and even if the rates increase most women are going to get through pregancy absolutely fine. They need to know about risk protection against mosquitoes. There is no travel or trade ban at the moment but clearly if its non-essential travel you need to think very carefully about if you are pregnant or likely to be pregnant, ah, about travelling to those areas.
Note: At the start of the interview this expert asserts a link between microcephaly and zika even going so far as to state we will surge later on because those infected now will show the effects in several months. Towards the end he says we DO NOT KNOW the risk. There is a link but we do not know the probality of a baby being affected by the mother’s  zika infection.

A rare condition? Really, ok lets do the maths:

Country Population 1 in 3000 1 in 5000
United Kingdom 64,600,000 21,533 12,920
United States 321,000,000 107,000 64,200
Brazil 200,400,000 66,800 40,080
Uganda 32,900,000 10,967 6,580
French Polynesia 270,000 90 54

 

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