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December 15, 2016: Zika Linked to Hearing And Vision Complications In Adults

Two studies released today detail Zika-related ear and eye problems while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) updated their weekly Zika numbers.

“In a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Brazilian researchers detailed three cases of acute, transient hearing loss in adults who were infected with Zika virus. All patients were admitted to an ear, nose, and throat emergency department in the summer of 2015. One patient had laboratory-confirmed Zika, and the other two were probably infected with the flavivirus.

These are the first cases of acute hearing losses described during the current epidemic that began in Brazil.

The first patient was a 23-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital for hearing loss 2 weeks after suffering a fever, itching, and joint pain. The hearing loss lasted 4 days, and audiometry testing showed mild loss in the right ear. Blood tests confirmed Zika virus antibodies.

A 54-year-old woman also presented with moderate bilateral hearing loss 3 days after experiencing itching, dizziness, myalgia, and headache. Within 1 month her hearing issues were resolved, and lab tests showed she had both Zika and dengue antibodies.

The final patient was 58-year-old woman who had intense hearing loss and tinnitus for 2 days. Two weeks prior to hearing loss, she experienced itching, myalgia, dizziness, and headache. Her hearing returned after 3 weeks, and she had both dengue and Zika antibodies in her serum.

“This report of three cases indicates that transient hearing impairment may be a specific manifestation of acute ZIKAV disease,” the authors concluded." A subsequent case-control study would be necessary to demonstrate this causal relationship and elucidate the mechanisms leading to auditory dysfunction in this setting."

Another study, published today in The Lancet, described a case of bilateral posterior uveitis, or eye tissue inflammation, in a 26-year-old American man who was infected with Zika after traveling to Puerto Rico.

Two weeks after being diagnosed as having Zika virus with moderate symptoms, including red eyes, the man complained of seeing photopsias, or flashes of light. An eye exam showed mild ocular lesions, with symptoms resolving within 3 weeks.

The authors say this is the first description of Zika-related bilaterial posterior uveitis and acquired chorioretinal lesions.

Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

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