The Zika virus is definitely the cause of not just microcephaly but a range of other severe birth defects of the brain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
“We conclude that a causal relationship exists between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies,” wrote the four lead doctors of the CDC’s Zika response team, in a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Zika is the first mosquito-borne virus ever known to cause birth defects.
“Never before in history has a bite from a mosquito caused such a malformation,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director.
It has long been suspected that there is a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a condition in which babies have unusually small heads and underdeveloped brains. Wednesday’s announcement is the first time the CDC has made the direct connection. The correlation to other birth defects heightens the alarm as warmer weather ushers in mosquito season in the United States.
Zika is transmitted by bite from either the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, both of which are found in about 30 states from California to New York.