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Zika virus spreads across Americas as concerns mount over birth defects

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 23 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6983

Rapid Response:

Re: Zika virus :1. where did it come from? 2. Microcephaly

During my working life I never heard of this virus.
Please could some virologist or epidemiologist tell us whether it is a NEW virus?
Secondly, microcephaly -
As a child I remember seeing, in war-time Lahore ( now in Pakistan) groups of small children with microcephaly, collecting alms. My mother ( a doctor) told me yea rs later, that it was a genetic abnormality. These children were called " Shah Daula's Mice".
Shah Daula was a holy man whose spiritual successors had continued the tradition of providing sanctuary to the microcephalic children whose parents could not cope.
In that part of the world mosquitoes were extremely common. IF the virus Zika needed a mosquito to carry it - it had ample transport.
Now my second question: has a search been carried out for Zika virus in the area , say, a hundred miles around Lahore?
I presume that the virologists there would already be looking for virus antibodies in the microcephalic children there. If, that is, microcephaly is seen there commonly.
That the virus should afflict Latin America, lead to microcephaly there, but spare a part of Asia seems unlikely.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 December 2015
JK Anand
Retired doctor
Free spitit
3 Wayford Close, Peterborough