Brasília: Cases of microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads, are skyrocketing in Brazil and the discovery that mosquitoes carry the disease means there are few ways to stop it, officials said Monday.
Latest figures show 1,248 cases this year, compared to just 147 last year, said the health ministry.
Complicating the situation is the revelation that mosquitos carrying the dengue-like Zika virus are spreading microcephaly, which also curbs mental development in the baby, Claudio Maierovitch, director of the epidemiology department at the health ministry, said.
"The control of the sickness depends on control of the transmitter, in this case the mosquito," he said.
"There is currently no specific treatment for the Zika virus," Maierovitch said. "That is what worries the Brazilian government."
Zika, which is related to dengue, has been detected in 14 of Brazil`s 27 states this year. Microcephaly is seen as an alarming new trend which threatens women especially in the first three months of pregnancy.
The health ministry is in talks with the World Health Organization and two US specialists are expected to arrive in Brazil within days.