While there are new reports every few days keeping us apprised of the latest cases of Zika and complications connected to the virus, we unfortunately are far from being able to confirm anything with complete certainty. However, with each new study we are discovering potential new connections and getting closer to a confirmation on some of the long suspected effects of Zika.
Zika Research Establishes More Evidence
This week, two studies have been published in medical journals further establishing the link between Zika Virus and microcephaly in infants. The first, published in Cell Stem Cell as reported by CNN, featured a study using “lab-grown human stem cells”. The researchers discovered that the Zika Virus infects cells in the brain’s outer layer selectively. The infection increases the chances for affected cells to die, also making those cells “less likely to divide normally and make new brain cells.” The selectivity of brain cells has opened the door to more studies to find the exact relationship between Zika & microcephaly.
More Birth Defects Linked to Zika Virus
The New England Journal of Medicine released a study this week, not only affirming the Zika & microcephaly link, but also discovering more pregnancy, fetal & birth abnormalities associated with Zika Virus infection during pregnancy.
Among the group of women studied, the Zika negative pregnant patients all showed normal ultrasound tests. Of 42 Zika infected pregnant patients who agreed to ultra-sound testing, 29% resulted in abnormal results. A variety of complications and abnormalities were discovered. Including:
- Developmental failure of the vermis (part of the brain associated with equilibrium, coordination, speech, eye & body movement.
- Blake’s pouch cyst
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Cerebral calcification
- Central nervous system alterations
- Abnormal arterial flow in the umbilical arteries
- Abnormal arterial flow in the cerebral arteries
- Macular hypoplasia
- Insufficient or absence of amniotic fluid
Two of the patients’ pregnancies ended in still births after 30 weeks gestation. With such a high rate of abnormalities and fetal mortality, researchers are stressing that pregnant women who suspect or have a confirmed Zika infection stay under close monitoring by a medical professional.
Central Massachusetts Zika Prevention
As the studies surrounding Zika Virus and its effects continue, we will stay abreast of the latest news. Until more studies are complete and confirmations can be made, preventing Zika is the best solution. Follow the 5 T’s of mosquito control at the bottom of our home page to be sure your yard isn’t encouraging mosquito population growth. And be sure to keep up with the latest travel advisory from the CDC for pregnant women in relation to the current Zika outbreak.