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  • The forearm of a public health technician is seen covered with sterile female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes after leaving a recipient to cultivate larvae, in a research area to prevent the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, at the entomology department of the Ministry of Public Health, in Guatemala City, January 26, 2016.

    The forearm of a public health technician is seen covered with sterile female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes after leaving a recipient to cultivate larvae, in a research area to prevent the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, at the entomology department of the Ministry of Public Health, in Guatemala City, January 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Since the Latin America Zika outbreak in 2013, more than 3,000 Guatemalan have suffered from the virus.

A year-end report by the Guatemalan National Center of Epidemiology says that 49 babies currently have microcephaly after being born from mothers infected with the Zika virus. 

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Thirty-six of the babies were born in 2016. Children born with microcephaly have a smaller-than-normal head circumference from underdevelopment and have neurological damage.

Four other infants were diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, also as a result of Zika virus. Guillain-Barre is a rare auto-immune disease where a body’s immune system attacks its own nerves, potentially leading to paralysis. 

The Guatemalan government confirmed that three adults are suffering from neurological damage, even Guillain-Barre syndrome, after having Zika. Medical authorities are still trying to determine if 17 other Guillain-Barre syndrome patients developed the disease from the Zika virus.

Since the Latin America Zika outbreak in 2013, more than 3,000 Guatemalan have suffered from the virus, and a medical census conducted on Oct. 28 of this year found that 458 people were currently infected. Zika symptoms generally include, severe fever, rashes, “conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache,” but some Zika patients in Guatemala have also had difficulty controlling their motor function and have suffered muscle weakness in their lower extremities.

Zika is mainly transmitted by an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito that acts as a vector.

In June, the Guatemalan government began a three year long term study on over 1,200 children under the age of 5 who potentially contracted Zika in utero, and 500 newborns who had not, to try to understand the health risks associated with the contracting the virus during infancy.


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