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    Here's What You Need To Know About the Zika Virus and Microcephaly

    The experts say to be aware, not afraid.

    The World Health Organization just declared a public health emergency over the Zika virus.

    1. First, some background: Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that's become an epidemic in Brazil and other parts of Central and South America.

    2. So why the emphasis on pregnant women? The Zika epidemic in Brazil coincides with a rise in reported cases of microcephaly, a birth defect some people call "shrunken head syndrome."

    3. Health officials suspect that there's a link between the Zika virus in pregnant women and microcephaly.

    4. Microcephaly is a condition where a baby's head is abnormally small.

    5. It occurs when the brain doesn't develop properly in the womb or if it stops growing after birth.

    6. Microcephaly can have a range of devastating health effects, depending on how severely the brain is damaged.

    7. The cause of microcephaly in most babies is unknown, but most cases are due to genetics.

    8. Infections such as rubella and toxoplasmosis (when they occur during pregnancy) may also cause congenital microcephaly.

    9. That said, we still don't know how likely microcephaly is in babies born to women who had the Zika virus.

    10. The good news is that the number of confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil is much smaller than originally thought.

    11. And evidence has shown that Zika does not affect later pregnancies, and it's safe to conceive two weeks after an infection.

    12. The best strategy is to be aware, not afraid.