With millions of dollars being poured into Zika Virus research worldwide, we are learning new information almost every day. With that being said, most of the findings are still preliminary and need further study, but we find it important to keep aware of the latest so that when certainties are made, we’ll be ready. Over the last few weeks, a few studies have been published, alerting the public to a couple of key discoveries. Here is what we know:
Zika Virus Linked to More Birth Defects
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that followed Zika infected and Zika negative pregnant women from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Zika-negative patients had normal results from their ultrasounds while 29% of Zika infected patients showed abnormalities. Two of the Zika pregnancies ended in stillbirths after 30 weeks of gestation and so far the live births of Zika patients with abnormal test results all have confirmed the ultrasonic findings. While the study was meant to learn more about the link between microcephaly in infants and Zika Virus, it has discovered possible links to other birth defects. The birth defects discovered include Macular hypoplasia, cerebral calcification, central nervous system alterations, intrauterine growth restrictions, abnormal arterial flow in the umbilical arteries, abnormal arterial flow in the cerebral arteries, developmental failure in the vermis (a part of the brain), Blake’s pouch cyst and insufficient or absence of amniotic fluid. The world awaits further studies to learn the exact link between Zika virus and these pregnancy complications & birth defects.
Zika Virus Linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. It typically starts with weakness & tingling in the extremities, eventually leading to temporary paralysis of the entire body. An outbreak of Zika Virus in French Polynesia in 2013-2014 was associated with an increase in the number of cases of the rare Guillain-Barre syndrome. Currently, eight countries in South America & Central America have reported a steep rise in Guillain-Barre syndrome, which appears to coordinate with the Zika outbreak areas. Preliminary studies have discovered that a link is there, but there seems to be some potential for dengue fever to be involved somehow as well. Again, further studies are needed to figure out if the presence of dengue fever is a coincidence or somehow a factor.
Zika Virus Could Be Carried by the Culex Mosquito
A preliminary study in Brazil, as reported by PBS, has discovered that the Culex family of mosquitoes may be able to carry & transmit Zika Virus. The research showed that the mosquitoes could carry the virus as well as “reproduce the virus in their salivary glands” which is a vital step in being able to pass the virus on to humans. In Minneapolis, we have multiple types of Culex mosquitoes. If further studies confirm the results, we will certainly be affected by this discovery.
All of these findings are still in early stage research. The links seem to be there, but the exact relationships are yet to be determined. Until we have concrete knowledge, be sure to stay up to date with the CDC’s travel guide for pregnant women. And lower your risks at home by following the 5 T’s of mosquito control and consider Mosquito Squad of the Twin Cities for your Minneapolis mosquito control needs.