‘I don’t live any more’: Zika takes a heavy toll on families in Brazil

From The Guardian
February 5, 2018

In her home in the hillside favela in Recife, Inabela Tavares straps a support vest around the waist of her daughter, Gaziella, to help her sit up. Splints on the two-year-old’s legs and plastic boots teach her to stand.

Gaziella has epilepsy, myopia and is visually impaired after her mother was infected by the Zika virus in 2015.

“I never thought about being a therapist, but I had to learn,” says Tavares, 33, who is married to Filipe, an auditor a year younger than her, and also has a 12-year-old son, Flavia. “I became empowered by knowledge.”

Tavares was six months pregnant and working in a phone store when her second child was diagnosed withmicrocephaly, a rare birth defect linked to the mosquito-borne virus, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

The virus affected thousands of Brazilian children – most of them in Brazil’s poor, dry north-east. By December, 3,037 “alterations in growth and development” possibly linked to the virus had been confirmed by the Brazilian government. Almost as many are still being investigated.

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