Roundup: CDC Confirms Zika Link to Birth Defects; Rate of Thyroid Cancer May Be Leveling Off

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that there is a link between birth defects and the Zika virus — a mosquito-carried illness.

Details about the CDC conclusion appear in the latest issue of New England Journal of Medicine. CDC scientists reviewed data and concluded that “Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.”

“This study marks a turning point in the Zika outbreak. It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly. We are also launching further studies to determine whether children who have microcephaly born to mothers infected by the Zika virus is the tip of the iceberg of what we could see in damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems,” says Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH., director of the CDC.

Evidence shows that Zika can be sexually transmitted. Therefore,  the CDC has recommended that pregnant women and their partners  “take steps to avoid Zika infection,” Dr. Frieden said. The CDC has recommended abstaining from unprotected sex if a partner has traveled to regions with locally transmitted cases of Zika.

Here’s a quick summary of recent news about Zika.

Expanded Scope: At a recent White House briefing, national health officials issued a strongly worded warning about the Zika virus.

“Everything we look at with this (Zika) virus seems to be a little scarier than we initially thought.” – Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director. “The more and more we learn, the more you get concerned about the scope of what this virus is doing.” –Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Zika Cases Nationwide

In the U.S., as of April 13, there are 358 reported cases of Zika virus, all related to travel outside the U.S. Of those 358 cases:
• Pregnant women represented 31 of the cases.
• Sexually transmitted Zika cases totaled seven
• There was one case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that is often accompanied by temporary paralysis.
In the U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands)
• Zika cases linked to travel: 4
• Locally acquired cases: 471
• Pregnant women represented 8 of reported cases.
• One case of Guillain-Barré syndrome.


In Miami-Dade County, two new cases of Zika virus were disclosed yesterday, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Statewide, there are a total 87 cases, including 35 in Miami-Dade County and 13 in Broward County. All of the cases are linked to travel.

“Based on CDC guidance, several pregnant women who have traveled to countries with local-transmission of Zika have received antibody testing, and of those, five have tested positive for the Zika virus,” Florida health officials report.

Helpful Zika-related links:


Rate of Thyroid Cancer May Be Leveling Off

The rate of thyroid cancer may be leveling off, a new study indicates, after a large increase in the diagnosis of the disease over the last few decades.

The tripling of thyroid cancer cases over the past 30 years has been mostly attributed to a greater awareness of the disease and more widespread diagnosis.

According to a new report published online Thursday in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, the rates of diagnosis of thyroid cancer between 2010 and 2012 have stabilized, suggesting that clinical practices are changing.

“These data cannot provide causal evidence of a link between trends in the incidence of thyroid cancer and specific clinical practice guidelines,” researchers said. “Nevertheless, the data suggest that changing clinical practices are responsible for the slowing increase in the reported incidence of thyroid cancer.”

The updated analysis found an annual increase of 3 percent from 1988 to 1998. This incidence increased to 6.7 percent from 1998 to 2009, and then leveled off at 1.75 percent from 2010 to 2012.

“The rapidly rising incidence of thyroid cancer in the United States has been recognized as an ‘epidemic of diagnosis’ more than an epidemic of disease,” wrote researchers led by Luc G. T. Morris, MD, MSc, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “Acknowledging this, practice guidelines are becoming increasingly nuanced in recommendations about which nodules to biopsy.”

Related article:

Thyroid Cancer Rising Among Women

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