When anyone meets Dr. Sergio Cortes for the first time, they see a dedicated health professional that has a history of responding to health emergencies in Brazil. Dr. Cortes is the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of Rede D’Or São Luiz in Rio. According to his LinkedIn page, he was Brazil’s Secretary of Health from 2007 to 2013. Dr. Cortes has an extensive LinkedIn following because of his informative posts.
While Dr. Cortes served as Secretary of Health, Brazil had several health emergencies. The Dr. Cortes emergency respond team was present to identify health issues and treat people that were involved in a natural disaster like the Xerém, Duque de Caxias, flood that took place in 2013. The threat of a dengue outbreak in that devastated area was high, and the Cortes team went into action to prevent a major outbreak. The Dengue virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and the flood waters in Xerém gave the mosquitoes perfect breeding grounds. Streets, homes and cars were flooded, and the Aedes aegypti mosquito can breed in anything that holds a small amount of water.
Even though Dr. Cortes left the Ministry of Health at the end of 2013, he has been very active in the current Zika virus outbreak. Dr. Cortes is still one of Brazil’s top medical advisors, so his expertise was needed to identify symptoms and to find out more about Zika. April 2015 was the first time any cases of Zika were reported in Brazil.
Dr. Cortes discovered similarities between the Zika virus and dengue, but his team discovered complications that no one expected. AS the number of Zika cases increased in the Northeastern region of Brazil, doctors were reporting an increase in the number of microcephaly cases. Dr. Cortes knew that microcephaly cases in Brazil were lower than in other countries with a tropical climate, but the Zika virus seemed to be contributing to the increase in microcephaly reports.
Dr. Cortes recently sent his followers a tweet that Brazil has reported more than 1.5 million cases of the Zika virus since May 2015. In another tweet, Dr. Cortes said there are 745 confirmed cases of microcephaly. Brazil usually has less than 200 cases a year. There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, so trying to contain the virus has been difficult because infected people can infect their sexual partners. That is one of the reasons Zika spread so quickly in Brazil.