Brazil reports more cases of microcephaly under investigation

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Brazil reporting more microcephaly cases, defect cause by Zika
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Brazil reports more cases of microcephaly under investigation
Sophia, who is two weeks old and was born with microcephaly, sleeps before her physical therapy session at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is suspected to be linked with occurrences of microcephaly in new born babies, but no link has been proven yet. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Lara, who is less then three months old and was born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Alarm in recent months over the Zika virus, which many researchers believe can cause microcephaly in the fetuses of pregnant women, has prompted calls, both inside and outside Brazil, to loosen a near-ban on abortion in the worldâs most populous Catholic country. But the pro-choice push is creating a backlash, particularly among the families of disabled children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Juliana da Silva, is illuminated by a ray of sunlight as she poses for a photo holding her daughter Maria, who was born with microcephaly, inside their house in Alcantil, Paraiba state, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this Jan. 30, 2016 photo, Jose Wesley, who suffers from microcephaly, sleeps on a large pillow on his mother's bed in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Associated Press photographer Felipe Dana paid a return visit to Jose, who he met while covering the Zika virus outbreak and its reported connection to microcephaly in the northeastern state. A month had gone by and it did not appear that little Jose was getting better. Not only did Jose scream uncontrollably, but one of his eyes convulsed. Jose's mother said that in subsequent doctor visits she had learned that Jose would likely be blind and paralyzed. He had lost weight, from 7 to 5 kilograms (15 to 11 pounds), a huge drop for a baby who should be growing. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Josiane da Silva holds her son Jose Elton, who was born with microcephaly, outside her house in Alcantil, Paraiba state, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. Public health experts agree that the poor are more vulnerable because they often lack amenities that help diminish the risk. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Juliana da Silva, holds her daughter Maria, who was born with microcephaly, as her father walks in their house in Alcantil, Paraiba state, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Juliana da Silva, sits with her daughter Maria, who was born with microcephaly, inside their house in Alcantil, Paraiba state, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Luiza, who was born with microcephaly, listens to music playing from a mobile phone at her grandmother's house in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The virus is suspected to be linked with occurrences of microcephaly in new born babies, but no link has been proven yet. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Angelica Pereira holds her daughter Luiza, who was born with microcephaly, outside her house in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The virus is suspected to be linked with occurrences of microcephaly in new born babies, but no link has been proven yet. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Laurinaldo Alves adjusts the pacifier of his daughter Luana Vitoria, who suffers from microcephaly, during a physical stimulation session at the Altino Ventura foundation, a treatment center that provides free health care, in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A therapist works with microcephaly patient Luana Vitoria, who is wearing corrective leg casts, during a physical stimulation session, at the Altino Ventura Foundation, a treatment center that provides free health care, in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Daniele Ferreira dos Santos holds her son Juan Pedro, who was born with microcephaly, during visual stimulation exercises at the Altino Ventura Foundation, a treatment center that provides free health care, in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Gleyse Kelly da Silva, watches her napping daughter Maria Giovanna, who was born with microcephaly, at the Altino Ventura Foundation, a treatment center that provides free health care, in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Severina Raimunda holds her granddaughter Melisa Vitoria, left, who was born with microcephaly and her twin brother Edison Junior at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2016 file photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The Zika virus is drawing worldwide attention to a devastating birth defect that until now has gotten little public notice. Regardless of whether the mosquito-borne virus really causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, a variety of other conditions can trigger it. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Brazil's health ministry on Wednesday reported 4,443 suspected and confirmed cases of microcephaly, up from 4,314 the previous week, as the South American country wrestles with an outbreak of Zika virus and its suspected link to the rare birth defect.

Of the total reported Wednesday, Brazil said 508 cases of microcephaly have been confirmed, while 3,935 are still being investigated.

SEE ALSO: Genes, bugs and radiation: WHO backs new weapons in Zika fight

The ministry said last week said that 41 of the confirmed cases of microcephaly had shown links to a Zika infection. It did not update that figure on Wednesday.

Microcephaly is a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems. Brazil is investigating a surge in the number of cases across the country in conjunction with the outbreak of Zika, but have not proven that the virus can cause microcephaly.

Zika has now spread to more than 30 countries and has led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency. (Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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