WHO updates view on Zika as cause of brain abnormalities

Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae photographed at a laboratory of the Ministry of Health of El Salvador in San Salvador. Picture: Marvin Recinos/AFP.

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation updated its assessment of the Zika virus on Wednesday as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome, after considering months of research into the mosquito-borne disease.

"The most likely explanation of available evidence from outbreaks of Zika virus infection and clusters of microcephaly is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly," the WHO said.

It was also most likely that Zika was a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), it added.

The WHO's previous statement in March, based on a rapid assessment of evidence, said: "Based on observational, cohort and case-control studies there is strong scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of GBS, microcephaly and other neurological disorders."