Neal D. E. Alexander, Wayner V. Souza, Laura C. Rodrigues, Cynthia Braga, André Sá, Luciana Caroline Albuquerque Bezerra and Celina Maria Turchi Martelli
Since an outbreak in Brazil, which started in 2015, Zika has been recognized as an important cause of microcephaly. The highest burden of this outbreak was in northeast Brazil, including the state of Pernambuco. The prevalence of congenital microcephaly in Pernambuco state was estimated from the RESP (Registro de Eventos em Saúde Pública) surveillance system, from August 2015 to August 2016 inclusive. The denominators were estimated at the municipality level from official demographic data. Microcephaly was defined as a neonatal head circumference below the 3rd percentile of the Intergrowth standards. Smoothed maps of the prevalence of microcephaly were obtained from a Bayesian model which was conditional autoregressive (CAR) in space, and first order autoregressive in time. A total of 742 cases were identified. Additionally, high and early occurrences were identified in the Recife Metropolitan Region, on the coast, and in a north–south band about 300 km inland. Over a substantial part of the state, the overall prevalence, aggregating over the study period, was above 0.5%. The reasons for the high occurrence in the inland area remain unclear.