Central Massachusetts Zika Virus Update: Scientists Learn More About Zika Transmission from Pregnant Mother to Baby

Author: Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge

Whether or not Zika Virus is going to become a locally spread disease is still a debatable topic that only time will determine the outcome. While we remain in the Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst category, we want to continue to bring you the latest information about how the Zika Virus works and the dangers it brings with it. Regardless of where the disease is currently transmitted, its devastating side effects to newborn babies remains a concern.


A baby (the 3rd in the United States) was born in New Jersey this week with Zika related birth defects. The baby was born early at 36 weeks gestation and is suffering from a series of birth defects including microcephaly and intestinal and visual issues. Her mother traveled here from Honduras where she transmitted the Zika Virus, her only symptoms having been a rash.


In related news, scientists have published a new report detailing the discovery of how the Zika Virus has been able to travel from pregnant mother to fetus. Normally flaviviruses, which include Zika, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus don’t transfer from pregnant mothers to their fetuses. At the Emory University School of Medicine, scientists conducted a study to determine how the Zika Virus can penetrate through the placenta causing microcephaly and other birth defects.

As reported by Forbes, through infecting healthy donated placental cells the scientists found that the Zika Virus can hijack what are called “Hofbauer cells.” The Hofbauer cells have direct access to fetal blood cells and are in charge of swallowing and digesting foreign material. By hijacking these cells, the immune system is unable to detect an infection to mount a defense. Some of the donated cells were more susceptible to the Zika Virus than others which means not all Zika infections during pregnancy will lead to birth defects. With further study, this information could open the door to learning risk factors for developing preventative measures and antiviral therapies.

It is vital that pregnant women who travel or spend time with people who have traveled, continue to follow the CDC’s latest recommendations on travel and safety.

We are committed to providing you the best information for staying up-to-date on the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses in the Chelmsford & Cambridge Stay tuned for the latest local mosquito news. Call us today at (978) 381-4028