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Brazil Denies Withholding Zika Virus Samples

Zika virus

Brazilian Health Ministry on Friday denied withholding Zika virus samples, saying it was willing to share related samples and information with foreign institutions that hope to study the virus.

Concerns over the Zika virus skyrocketed when a casual relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and the birth defect microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven.

The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 and subsequently spread to parts of Asia.

Brazil’s first case was recorded in the middle of last year, and the disease quickly spread across the country and to more than 20 nations in the region, the Caribbean and beyond, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare an international emergency.

Representatives of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been conducting research on the Zika virus along with local experts in Brazil since the country reported Zika infection cases, according to the ministry.

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They also carried out fieldwork to investigate the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rapid onset of muscle weakness caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system and its relation with the Zika virus.

Brazil also saw a rise in Guillain-Barre syndrome among people previously infected with the Zika virus, the ministry said.

Last week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, talked about jointly developing a vaccine against Zika.

Representatives of major public health institutions of the two countries will meet later this month to discuss the issue, the report said.

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