Divergent Co-mordibidites of Zika Virus and Microcephaly in Latin America
Keywords:Zika virus, Microcephaly, Latin America
Since 2015, a major problem in our society has been the spread of the Zika virus, formally known as ZIKV. ZIKV, originally of African origins, in recent years has spread its way across the Pacific with minor outbreaks before landing in Latin America. The most significant change in ZIKV from discovery is its increasing neurological effects, unique to this disease family. Data has suggested that a pregnant mother having been diagnosed with ZIKV that the child will be subject to congenital disorders as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Most notably has been the diagnosis of microcephaly, where a baby is born with an abnormally small head. Some data has suggested a significant increase of rates of microcephaly, but the limitation of small sample sizes and not all populations having been studied prevents a definite conclusion on the effect size of this diagnosis. Therefore, I decided to preform a meta-analysis on existing data sets to determine the likelihood that a child would develop microcephaly, hypothesizing a positive association. My odds ratio did result in a value confirming this confirmation, but because they were statistically insignificant, I had to reject the hypothesis that a pregnant mother’s child would develop microcephaly. I presented alternative hypotheses that there is no association because of genomic changes in the virus or not all of Latin American is feeling the effects of microcephaly at the same extent, with Brazil feeling the effects of the virus the strongest, skewing the data and making researchers overestimate the effects of microcephaly. I hypothesized that Brazil has been assumed to be hardest hit because of possible lack of evaluation on past rates of microcephaly, addition of a pesticide to the water, and the Brazilian population being more genetically susceptible to microcephaly. Further research should study genomic changes in the virus strain and testing the Brazilian population original risk of genetic microcephaly.
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