Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Evidence Shows Zika Causes Microcephaly
By Molly Walker, Contributing Writer MedPage Today // April 15, 2016
reports indicate Zika virus may soon be endemic in southern U.S. states by this summer
EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the Florida Department of Health, the number of confirmed Zika cases in Florida rose Thursday to a U.S.-leading 87.
The confirmed new cases came a day after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no longer any doubt that the mosquito-borne virus causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and other severe brain defects.
With reports now indicating that the Zika virus may soon be endemic in southern U.S. states by this summer, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has been a vocal advocate for Congress to increase funding to U.S. public health departments to develop and prepare for aggressive preventive programs and more effective treatment of the viral infection.
— Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief
(MEDPAGE TODAY) While Zika virus had previously been linked to microcephaly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken a step further — saying that the evidence now indicates causality between Zika and the severe birth defect.
“The message of the CDC paper underscores the importance of ongoing research into this outbreak. We once again encourage Congress to act swiftly to pass emergency funding to enhance our public health preparedness and enable America’s researchers to lead the charge in the development of a vaccine or treatment for this virus. Ongoing support for Zika virus research will protect American families and, indeed, families around the world.” — Mark DeFrancesco, MD, President American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Most experts, including the CDC, had been careful not to characterize the relationship between Zika virus and microcephaly as causal, characterizing the relationship as “a strong association.”
So, how did they go from a “smoking gun” to proof beyond a reasonable doubt? They examined the existing evidence for Zika and microcephaly using Shepard’s criteria, standards for “proof” of an agent that can induce a congenital malformation. From there, Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues, concluded that there is evidence to fit enough of these criteria to determine causality.
But the CDC said this information does not change their existing clinical guidelines on the prevention and treatment of potential Zika virus infection, and that the focus remains on protecting pregnant women and their partners from transmission of the Zika virus.