Public Health Minister Dr George Norton has confirmed that two cases of the birth defect Microcephaly have been detected within the last three weeks in Guyana but the ministry is uncertain if it is linked to Zika.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. It can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size.
Norton stated that the while the virus is an isolated condition, it has occurred before in Guyana, prior to the prevalence of the Zika virus. He stated that on average Guyana records three cases of the birth defect per year.
“We have two cases, one after the other. It is not something new,” he said, noting that the ministry has not yet linked the cases to Zika but has not ruled it out.
The virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads the dengue and chikungunya viruses.
These mosquitoes live in standing water in buckets, flower pots, old tyres and vases. They prefer to bite people and so lives anywhere near people. These mosquitos bite during the day and night.
Norton stated that the ministry has taken blood samples from the mothers and sent them to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad and Tobago for testing.
“We are waiting to see if the microcephaly babies are linked to Zika,” he added.
The CDC indicated that birth defects tracking systems have estimated that microcephaly ranges from 2 babies per 10,000 live births to about 12 babies per 10,000 live births in the United States.