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Brazil Advises Women not to get Pregnant due to Spreading Virus

Update Date: Dec 23, 2015 09:39 AM EST

Brazil is advising women not to get pregnant due to a virus that has been spreading throughout the nation.

"It's a very personal decision, but at this moment of uncertainty, if families can put off their pregnancy plans, that's what we're recommending," Angela Rocha at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital told CNN.

According to the officials, a mosquito-borne virus called Zika can potentially lead to microcephaly in newborns. The condition is a brain disorder that can cause incomplete brain development.

There have been more than 2,400 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil this year, which is significantly higher than the 147 cases reported the year before. On top of these cases, doctors are currently investigating a total of 40 deaths that are believed to be related to the virus.

"These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It's an emotional stress that just can't be imagined," Rocha said. "Here in Pernambuco, we're talking about a generation of babies that's going to be affected."

Perambuco, which has seen more than 900 suspected cases, is one of six states that have declared a state of emergency.

"This is probably the largest outbreak of Zika ever recorded," said Ann Powers, at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported by The Wall Street Journal. "There's a lot of concern about what it means, what the implications are, and what we can potentially do for containment and control."

Since the increase in the brain disorder, doctors have been searching for the common causes that could explain why so many newborns appeared to be affected. They found that the majority of the mothers experienced symptoms, such as fever, rash and headaches that point to a Zika infection during their pregnancies.

"This is an unprecedented situation, unprecedented in world scientific research," Brazil's Health Ministry said after it found the Zika virus via autopsy in a baby.

A Zika infection is typically treated with bed rest and liquids. It is rarely fatal.

Research into the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly will continue. Although northeast Brazil, in particular, has been affected by the virus the most, there have been cases reported in several other regions throughout the country.

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