Zika virus infection and microcephaly: Evidence regarding geospatial associations.
BACKGROUND: Although the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic ceased to be a public health emergency by the end of 2016, studies to improve knowledge about this emerging disease are still needed, especially those investigating a causal relationship between ZIKV in pregnant women and microcephaly in neonates. However, there are still many challenges in describing the relationship between ZIKV and microcephaly. The few studies focusing on the epidemiological profile of ZIKV and its changes over time are largely limited to systematic reviews of case reports and dispersal mapping of ZIKV spread over time without quantitative methods to analyze patterns and their covariates. Since Brazil has been at the epicenter of the ZIKV epidemic, this study examines the geospatial association between ZIKV and microcephaly in Brazil. METHODS: Our study is categorized as a retrospective, ecological study based on secondary databases. Data were obtained from January to December 2016, from the following data sources: Brazilian System for Epidemiological Surveillance, Disease Notification System, System for Specialized Management Support, and Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Data were aggregated by municipality. Incidence rates were estimated per 100,000 inhabitants. Analyses consisted of mapping the aggregated incidence rates of ZIKV and microcephaly, followed by a Getis-Ord-Gi spatial cluster analysis and a Bivariate Local Moran's I analysis. RESULTS: The incidence of ZIKV cases is changing the virus's spatial pattern, shifting from Brazil's Northeast region to the Midwest and North regions. The number of municipalities in clusters of microcephaly incidence is also shifting from the Northeast region to the Midwest and North, after a time lag is considered. Our findings suggest an increase in microcephaly incidence in the Midwest and North regions, associated with high levels of ZIKV infection months before. CONCLUSION: The greatest burden of microcephaly shifted from the Northeast to other Brazilian regions at the beginning of 2016. Brazil's Midwest region experienced an increase in microcephaly incidence associated with ZIKV incidence. This finding highlights an association between an increase in ZIKV infection with a rise in microcephaly cases after approximately three months.
Vissoci, JRN; Rocha, TAH; Silva, NCD; de Sousa Queiroz, RC; Thomaz, EBAF; Amaral, PVM; Lein, A; Branco, MDRFC; Aquino, J; Rodrigues, ZMR; da Silva, AAM; Staton, C
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