While Massachusetts remains on the lower end of the risk scale for a Zika Virus outbreak, compared to much of the country, we want to keep you abreast of the latest news in regards to research and discoveries. Of course, if it does become locally transmitted, we’ll be keeping you up to speed on that as well.
NEW JERSEY BABY BORN WITH MICROCEPHALY CAUSED BY ZIKA VIRUS
The biggest Zika new in the past week was the birth of a baby in New Jersey who is afflicted with severe microcephaly, some vision and intestinal abnormalities all caused by the Zika Virus. The baby’s mother came to the U.S. from Honduras. Her only symptom from Zika was a rash until prenatal testing exposed the baby’s microcephaly.
SCIENTISTS DISCOVER HOW THE ZIKA VIRUS TRANSFERS FROM PREGNANT MOTHER TO FETUS
Scientists released information in regards to how the Zika Virus manages to get from the mother to the fetus. Being a flavivirus, scientists were baffled when birth defects were proven to be linked to the virus. Normally a flavivirus (which includes West Nile Virus and yellow fever) is not transferred from pregnant mother to fetus. They discovered that the Zika Virus is essentially able to infect a type of cell that camouflages the virus so it can go undetected. Without the body detecting the infection, it does not mount a defense, and the virus can get past the placenta and into the babies blood supply and eventually neurological system. Some tested placental cells were more susceptible to this than others. Figuring out what makes cells susceptible and others not will aid in assessing the risk to create new preventative health care guidelines. As reported in Forbes, nutrition, genetic factors and the timing of the Zika infection could play a role in the risk for birth defects.
There is quite a political fight happening over the funding for Zika Virus research within the United States Congress. Some think the danger of Zika is being overblown, some are using it as political currency, others are fighting tooth and nail to get as much funding as possible. While we await the result of this epic battle, we continue to be cautiously optimistic.
Zika prevention can start right at home with each homeowner. Following the 5 Ts of mosquito control and having your yard treated with mosquito barrier spray can significantly lower your exposure to mosquitoes – the main transmitter of the Zika Virus. Also, be aware of the CDC’s travel guide and if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, practice safe sex if you or your partner have traveled to an area where Zika is active.