The Forgotten Virus: Zika Families and Researchers Struggle for Support

RECIFE, Brazil — A procession of mothers pushed children in bulky wheelchairs down a long corridor at a health center in this northeastern Brazilian city, passing patients who glanced at the children, looked away, then looked back, quickly and uneasily.

The children were smartly turned out in Disney T-shirts, striped socks, plastic sandals. Girls had ponytails tied with big bows; many wore brightly colored glasses. And all were profoundly disabled, their limbs rigid, their mouths slack, many with foreheads that sloped sharply back above their dark eyes.

Most Brazilians know as soon as they see them: These are Zika babies, whose mothers were infected with the virus while pregnant during a virulent outbreak of the mosquito-borne illness in 2015 and 2016. The chief signifier at birth was microcephaly, unusually small heads that hinted at the devastating brain damage the virus caused while they were still in utero.

Seven years later, they are now children, many of them nearly as big as…

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This article was written by Stephanie Nolen and Dado Galdieri and originally published on www.nytimes.com