Preliminary Report of Microcephaly Potentially Associated with Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy - Colombia, January-November 2016
Cuevas, Esther Liliana
Tong, Van T.
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In Colombia, approximately 105,000 suspected cases of Zika virus disease (diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, regardless of laboratory confirmation) were reported during August 9, 2015-November 12, 2016, including nearly 20,000 in pregnant women (1,2). Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a known cause of microcephaly and serious congenital brain abnormalities and has been associated with other birth defects related to central nervous system damage (3). Colombia's Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) maintains national surveillance for birth defects, including microcephaly and other central nervous system defects. This report provides preliminary information on cases of congenital microcephaly identified in Colombia during epidemiologic weeks 5-45 (January 31-November 12) in 2016. During this period, 476 cases of microcephaly were reported, compared with 110 cases reported during the same period in 2015. The temporal association between reported Zika virus infections and the occurrence of microcephaly, with the peak number of reported microcephaly cases occurring approximately 24 weeks after the peak of the Zika virus disease outbreak, provides evidence suggesting that the period of highest risk is during the first trimester of pregnancy and early in the second trimester of pregnancy. Microcephaly prevalence increased more than fourfold overall during the study period, from 2.1 per 10,000 live births in 2015 to 9.6 in 2016. Ongoing population-based birth defects surveillance is essential for monitoring the impact of Zika virus infection during pregnancy on birth defects prevalence and measuring the success in preventing Zika virus infection and its consequences, including microcephaly.