How Potent Is The Zika Virus? New Findings Reveal How It Does Its Damage

First Posted: Dec 19, 2016 06:07 AM EST

Pregnant women infected with Zika virus during pregnancy have given birth to infants with severe abnormalities, a new study found.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers have found that 42 percent of pregnant women infected with the dreaded Zika virus gave birth to infants with severe neurological problems in Brazil.

The study also shed light on the fact that Zika infections acquired in the third trimester are as dangerous and risky as those infected during the first trimester, Sci-Tech Today reports.

Another study published in JAMA by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States discovered that about 11 percent of pregnant women gave birth to an infant with a birth defect, Five Thirty Eight reports.

The officials in CDC said the findings of the study show that the rate of microcephaly cases and fetal abnormalities linked to Zika is similar among these babies born in the United States whose mothers were infected during travel to the Americas like Brazil.

"Our findings show that Zika virus can continue to replicate in infants' brains even after birth and that the virus can persist in placentas for months -- much longer than we expected," said Julu Bhatnagar, lead of the molecular pathology team at the CDC's Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch and lead author of the study, as reported by Medline Plus.

It has been studied that Zika virus could cause severe infant abnormalities if the mother was infected during pregnancy and the most common problem is microcephaly. In fact, Brazil reported the most cases since the outbreak emerged in 2015.

However, a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that in a patient infected with Zika, the scientists have found key proteins that could help them create vaccines and medicines to stem the infection.

They suggest that two antibodies were able to eliminate samples of the virus when tested on laboratory petri dishes. Moreover, the antibodies do not seem to recognize strains of dengue virus. Hence, when medicines are developed, these could reduce the risk of triggering the rise of a more dangerous strain of dengue, which is more fatal than Zika.

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