Brazil says microcephaly cases linked to Zika rise to 4,863

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BRASILIA, March 1 (Reuters) - The number of confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil associated with the Zika virus has risen to 4,863 from 4,690 a week earlier, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

Of these, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 641 from 583 a week earlier, while suspected ones under investigation increased to 4,222 from 4,107 in the same period.

Brazil considers most of the cases of babies born with abnormally small heads to be related to Zika, though the link between the virus and the birth defects has not been scientifically established.

Zika virus in Brazil:

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Brazil reporting more microcephaly cases, defect cause by Zika
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Brazil says microcephaly cases linked to Zika rise to 4,863
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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(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn, G Crosse)

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