Questions for ‘Zika birth defects: Concerns spread from head to toe’


A female Aedes aegypti mosquito finishes a blood meal. Mosquitoes can become infected with Zika when they feed on blood containing the virus. Once infected, they can spread the virus to other people.

Prof. Frank Hadley Collins/CDC/(CC0 1.0)

To accompany feature “Zika birth defects: Concerns spread from head to toe


Before Reading: 

1.    Have you heard of Zika virus? What symptoms come to mind when you hear mention of this infection?

2.    Do you know anyone affected by a birth defect? What types of birth defects, if any, have you heard linked to Zika?

During Reading: 

1.     What is the most common birth defect linked to Zika infection?

2.     What are the prominent physical features of babies with microcephaly?

3.     What U.S. territory is seeing a large number of confirmed Zika cases?

4.     Why are public health officials concerned about pregnant women being exposed to Zika virus?

5.     What is congenital Zika syndrome?

6.     What are three symptoms, besides microcephaly, that researchers have linked to Zika infection?

7.     What two types of brain cells does the Zika virus attack? Why are these brain cells important?

8.     What is another virus that can cause microcephaly?

9.     Why is it hard for public health officials to know how many people have been exposed to Zika virus?

10.  Why do health officials think it will be important to monitor Zika-exposed babies even if they appear normal at birth?

After Reading: 

1.    Imagine you were charged with developing a plan to reduce the risk of Puerto Rico.  What strategies would you select to put in place? Describe why you chose each.

2.    If you were a Zika researcher, what advice would you give to women in Zika-prone areas who are pregnant or want to become pregnant? Explain your reasoning.