Fernanda da Silva was eight months pregnant when an ultrasound showed her unborn baby had microcephaly, a birth defect caused by the Zika virus.
Her baby, Isabela, came with a much smaller head, not exactly the kind of baby she wanted.
“Of course I was worried, but I was prepared. I was told about it before she was born. But I keep asking myself: why did it happen to us,” Fernanda said.
I've been an infectious disease doctor for 43 years. I have never seen anything like this. Doctors are stressed. Mothers are panicking.
Fernanda is one of almost four thousand mothers in Brazil who were exposed to the infected mosquitoes linked to the outbreak of the Zika virus. Its a daily struggle for these mothers to care for these children.
Joana Souza, another victim said her baby was acting differently from her other children when they were babies; she decided to consult her doctor only to be told her baby is a victim.
“I’ve noticed he’s different from my other children. By the time they were two months, they responded to my voice, they smiled. He doesn’t,” Joana said
Doctors at the Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital were among the first to have noticed the surge in newborns with abnormally small heads after dozens of desperate mothers thronged the hospital seeking help for their infants.
The Head of Infectious Disease Department at Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital, Dr. Angela Rocha said the disease caught them by surprise.
“I’ve been an infectious disease doctor for 43 years. I have never seen anything like this. Doctors are stressed. Mothers are panicking.”
She said the affected mothers are hoping to hear some good news that their children will be okay but doctors are put in an uncomfortable position to tell them the implications of the defect.
“Some hold onto hope that everything will be all right with their babies. We have to tell them: it won’t be.”
The Zika virus was recently reported in Brazil but the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is not new to Brazilian health authorities. It is the same carrier of the dengue fever and the yellow fever virus.
In May 2015, there was an outbreak of dengue fever infecting over 700,000 people.
The Brazilian government has allocated money into research for a vaccine but that is expected between 3 to 5 years.
Most of the cases have come from densely populated and very poor areas in the North. Health Inspectors are educating people and fumigating breeding grounds. The army is assisting in the immediate intervention to get rid of the infected mosquitoes.
The World Health Organization on Monday, warned that Zika virus could spread across the Americas. With no vaccine yet, the doctors are advising mothers to avoid getting pregnant.