7 years ago

More evidence shows Zika virus could be linked to infections brain, spinal cord infections

TomoNews US
TomoNews US
HOUSTON — A link between the Zika virus and neurological disorders deepens as scientists discover microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome may be the most obvious diseases caused by the virus.

After observing the virus replicating in brain tissues of aborted and stillborn fetuses, scientists suspect the Zika virus can act directly on nerve cells. They are also considering the possibility that the virus may attack nerve cells directly in adults.

Brain and spinal cord infections such as meningitis, encephalitis and myelitis newly discovered in people exposed to Zika have all been caused by direct attacks on nerve cells.

"What we're seeing are the consequences of this virus turning from the African strain to a pandemic strain," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine told Reuters.

Meanwhile, more and more cases of microcephaly are being linked to Zika-exposed patients.

Microcephaly has no known cure. Children with the condition are born with abnormally small brains and skulls, which in the most serious cases can cause the early death of the child, or even the death of the baby while he or she is still in the womb.

Even if the babies survive, they will be intellectually and physically handicapped, or in the best cases suffer from psychomotor impairment.

Another neurological disorder commonly linked with Zika virus is Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is when the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system by destroying the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons of peripheral nerves.

The first symptoms of GBS include weakness or abnormal sensations in the legs, which gradually spread to the arms and upper body and eventually lead to breathing difficulties.


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