Zika Virus & Birth Defects

January 29, 2016 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Zika Virus & Birth Defects The Zika Virus; you've heard about it, read about it and are probably worrying about it because of how close our state is compared to the rest of the United States to Latin America. The fact that the type of mosquito that is capable of carrying the virus is not uncommon in Florida as it is the same mosquito that has transmitted the tropical diseases of yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and most recently, West Nile. What is considerably the worst part of the virus is the effect it can have on newborns and their mothers. Anyone who gets the virus may contract a high fever or rash, but for women who are pregnant, there is a possible linkage between Zika and microcephaly—a rare condition in which children are born with damaged, smaller-than-normal brains, leading to smaller heads. So far, the people in the United States who have contracted the virus are a part of a group of individuals who have traveled outside the country to Latin America where the pandemic is spreading. Consequently, one of these individuals live in Hillsborough County. Dr. Antonio Crespo, an infectious disease specialist at Orlando Health said, “That's a concern for us here because we are a major tourist destination for visitors from the epidemic areas.” Therefore, just in case this virus is news to you, we at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA would like to inform you of the virus itself, along with prevention methods discussed by health officials to protect you and your family. The Zika Virus Zika virus disease is caused by a virus that is transmitted by Aedes (Asian tiger) mosquitoes through their bite and symptoms of the disease last for about a week. These symptoms range from a fever and skin rash to conjunctivitis and muscle aches or pains. It was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 when rhesus monkeys were experiencing it's symptoms that were initially thought to have been linked to yellow fever. Over time, the virus spread to humans in 1952 in Uganda and the Untied Republic of Tanzania. Since then, outbreaks of Zika virus have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific [1]. Currently there is no vaccine for the virus and the best known method of prevention is to guard against mosquito bites. And according to Toronto researchers, more than 63% of the U.S. population lives in areas where Zika virus might spread during seasonally warm months. A little over 7% of Americans live in areas where the cold might not kill off the mosquito in the winter, leaving them vulnerable year round. Francisco Calderon, the spokesman for Miami-Dade Public Works, spoke to The Miami Herald about the disease stating, “Through outreach and public education efforts, we encourage residents to prevent mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water in and around their homes.” Chief entomologist and vice president of the National Pest Management Association, Jim Fredericks said, “These mosquitoes are resourceful at breeding in containers, puddles, gutters, anything where water collects. And they have a short flight range, so they tend to stay around structures, homes, buildings and people.” He continued, “These are very aggressive daytime bitters. They can live indoors and outdoors but need to be near people to feed.” It's been warned to pregnant women to not travel to Latin America for the duration of their pregnancy or if they are thinking about getting pregnant while health officials are still looking for vaccines or a strong indication of how to detect when someone has the disease. Dr. Carina Blackmore, deputy state epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health said, “It's a difficult disease to identify clinically because the symptoms are somewhat vague and flu-like. So we may have cases that we don't detect or confirm. The state is working on educational materials for community physicians and public health departments so we can better identify cases.” In any case, doctors at the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg are following the developments of particular babies born with microcephaly to find any new information [2]. Microcephaly Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly which is a condition that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This unfortunate neurological disorder can cause severe developmental issues and sometimes death. Since last November, Brazil has seen about 4,180 cases of microcephaly in babies born to women who were infected with Zika during their pregnancies. As CNN reported, to but that in perspective, there were only 146 cases in 2014. So far, 51 babies have died. Although health experts have not established a concrete connection, the CDC has confirmed that the Zika virus was found in two newborns who have microcephaly and later died, as well as in the placentas of two women who miscarried children with microcephaly. This is why several countries, including Brazil Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica have asked women to postpone their pregnancies when possible. In the United States, the CDC has advised pregnant women to suspend their travel to nearly two-dozen countries that have been hit with the virus. Additionally, the World Health Organization has urged people to help repent the virus's spread by eliminating mosquitos' breeding sites—such as containers that can amass water—as well as using repellants [3]. PAHO Statement on Zika Virus Prevention To prevent or slow the spread of Zika virus and reduce its impact, PAHO recommends the following:
  • Mosquito populations should be reduced and controlled by eliminating breeding sites. Containers that can hold even small amounts of water where mosquitos can breed, such as buckets, flower pots or tires, should be emptied, cleaned or covered to prevent mosquitos from breeding in them. This will also help to control dengue and chikungunya, which are also transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Other measures include using larvicide to treat standing waters.
  • All people living in or visiting areas with Aedes mosquitoes should protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets, especially during the day when Aedes mosquitos are most active.
  • Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites. Although Zika typically causes only mild symptoms, outbreaks in Brazil have coincided with a marked increase in microcephaly—or unusually small head size—in newborns. Women planning to travel to areas where Zika is circulating should consult a healthcare provider for close monitoring of their pregnancy. A decision to defer pregnancy is an individual one between a woman, her partner and her healthcare provider [4].
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Why choose to write about something with legal constraints? The Zika virus causes microcephaly which is a deadly condition babies go through with or without the disease within the system. Another cause of this condition is concretely linked to toxic chemicals within pharmaceutical drugs. Now that microcephaly is becoming more researched and understood by not only medical professionals and the general public, it's significant to also learn about all causes of such a debilitating disease. One particular linkage between brain deformities, congenital heart defects and cleft palates finds Zofran possibly suspect of causing such defects. Hundreds of woman who have filed Zofran lawsuits say that GlaxoSmithKline's nausea drug, the world's most popular pharmaceutical option for morning sickness, causes birth defects. Some major studies suggest that much, finding a market increase in the rate of such aforementioned birth defects among babies exposed to Zofran. Therefore, not only should women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant avoid traveling to countries infected by the Zika virus, but they should also avoid taking GSK's Zofran to prevent the same debilitating side effect of the Zika virus. Sometimes it doesn't take an outside disease to affect our homes, it may well just be the drugs that we have inside out homes that do the same. Thus, if you or a loved one has taken Zofran and suspect that their child has defects linked to its usage, it is essential that you attain an experienced attorney who understands the legal woes that come with a lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company. Aside from the compensation for actual damages that you could receive, you may also be awarded a generous amount of punitive damages to legally “punish” GSK to help them learn their lesson. If you'd like to figure out whether or not you're eligible to recover for your physical, mental, emotional, or financial losses related to Zofran and birth defects, feel free to call Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We have knowledgeable product liability and defective medication attorneys ready to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation by calling our phone number at (727) 451-6900. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/birth-injury-attorneys/ References: [1] Zika virus [2] Here's what you need to know about the Zika virus if you live in Florida [3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/25/zika-virus-outbreak-will-likely-spread-across-americas-who-says/ [4] PAHO Statement on Zika Virus Transmission and Prevention


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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