Zika News

Zika Mystery Deepens With Evidence of Nerve Cell Infections

The realization that microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome may be just the most obvious maladies caused by Zika adds urgency to vaccine development efforts, top investigators report.

Researchers are discovering serious brain and spinal cord infections—including encephalitis, meningitis and myelitis—in people exposed to the mosquito-borne virus.

"If you have a virus that is toxic enough to produce microcephaly in someone, you could be sure that it will produce a whole series of conditions that we haven't even begun to understand," said Dr. Alberto de la Vega, an obstetrician at San Juan's University Hospital in Puerto Rico.  Click here to read the full article. 

Medical sleuths descend on Puerto Rico to unearth mysteries of Zika

Puerto Rico is, in some respects, a massive Zika laboratory. A very active one. “We have many questions that have a very urgent public health need to be answered,” said Tyler Sharp, acting head epidemiologist at the CDC’s dengue branch, which is based in San Juan. “We would much prefer to not have to ask them. But they need to be asked.” Click here to read the full article.

Study Assesses Zika Microcephaly Risk 

The study published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet, is based on  pregnancies and births around the time of a 2013-14 outbreak of the virus in French Polynesia, researchers also reported this week that the complication is rare when mothers are infected with the mosquito borne illness. "If 1 percent is right, then that would be great news,” said Laura Rodrigues, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, "But it just seems a bit implausible right now.

A new analysis of a Zika virus outbreak in French Polynesia further supports the association between maternal Zika infections and microcephaly, showing the risk is about 1 in 100 women infected in the first pregnancy trimester.  

The risk of Zika-linked microcephaly, which researchers put at 1%, is perhaps lower than expected, given findings from Brazil suggesting the microcephaly risk may be as high as 22% after symptomatic Zika virus infection during the first trimester. The authors acknowledge it's still not clear if the risk estimates relate to a single underlying risk or if they might involve other factors, such as clinical symptoms or earlier dengue infections. Click here to read the full article.