Four babies born with microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormal birth with small heads - are linked to the Zika virus. The Health Ministry in confirmed on Wednesday about it and also reported that the 4 cases were part of the total 264 cases of the mosquito-borne infection in the country.
Panama's Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 14 pregnant women have contracted the virus, and six babies who were infected with Zika leading to malformations, including the microcephaly cases, Reuters reported.
The country is "staying alert to the rapid expansion of the Zika virus," Panama's Health Minister Francisco Terrientes reportedly said, calling on citizens to take preventative measures. The new study was conducted by researchers at Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and published in Cell Host & Microbe.
"We are pretty sure that mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia will have a great impact on Zika transmission in the field," Luciano A. Moreira, a biologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, reportedly said.
The study states that the method of infecting the mosquitoes with Wolbachia will involve inserting the bacteria into mosquito eggs, which then pass the bacteria along to the offspring.
"The idea has been to release Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia over a period of a few months, so they mate with Aedes mosquitoes ... and over time, replace the mosquito population," said the senior author Luciano Moreira of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, which is preparing to host the Olympics this summer.
World Health Organization (WHO) officialy writes the key facts of Zika virus:
Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedesmosquitoes.
People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.