When Zika Turns Deadlier: How Anti-Vaccination Misinformation Could Exacerbate an International Health Emergency

The world is in a frenzy over the Zika virus. Researchers established a link between its rise in Brazil and cases of congenital microcephaly in babies of infected pregnant women, with infants born with smaller than expected heads and improper brain development. As of November last year, Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco recorded 646 babies born with microcephaly. On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency. Though we don't yet understand the exact relationship between Zika and microcephaly, there is clear cause for concern. But even more troubling is a virus brewing beneath the surface: rumors circulating online that this birth abnormality is actually caused by the Tdap vaccine given to pregnant women. It's not. When the anti-vaxxer movement meets a global health pandemic, the consequences could be dire. Zika does carry potential dangers for expectant mothers and their babies. But the virus is tame compared to its local counterparts -- dengue is nicknamed "break-bone fever," chikungunya "bending-up fever." But it is really tame compared to tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, the bacterial infections against which Tdap protects. Tetanus affects the brain and nervous system, causing painful muscle spasms that can be strong enough to make it impossible to open one's mouth. It kills one in five infected. Diphtheria causes difficulty breathing a...
Source: Healthy Living - The Huffington Post - Category: Consumer Health News Source Type: news

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