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Zika Virus can lead to paralysis, may also have serious adverse effects on Heart

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session on March 18 in d in Washington, DC

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FILE - Aedes aegypti mosquitos, potential carriers of the Zika virus, are photographed in a laboratory at the University of El Salvador, in San Salvador, Feb. 3, 2016. Researchers have found that during the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.(VOA)
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New York, March 11, 2017: The deadly Zika virus, which is already known to cause birth defects and a neurological condition that can lead to paralysis, may have serious adverse effects on the heart, says a study.

In a study of a small group of adult patients with Zika and no previous history of cardiovascular disease, all but one developed a heart rhythm problem and two-thirds had evidence of heart failure, the researchers said.

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“We know that other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and chikungunya virus, can affect the heart, so we thought we might see the same with Zika. But we were surprised by the severity, even in this small number of patients,” said the study’s lead author Karina Gonzalez Carta, cardiologist and research fellow at Mayo Clinic in the US.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session on March 18 in d in Washington, DC.

The nine patients (six were female, and mean age was 47) were seen at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, within two weeks of having Zika-type symptoms.

They reported symptoms of heart problems, most commonly palpitations followed by shortness of breath and fatigue.

Only one patient had any previous cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure), and tests confirmed that all of the patients had active Zika infection.

Patients underwent an initial electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that shows the electrical activity of the heart, and in eight of the patients, the EKG suggested heartbeat rate or rhythm concerns.

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 These findings prompted further examination which showed serious arrhythmias (improper beating of the heart) in eight patients and heart failure in six cases.

The patients have been followed since July 2016, and none of their cardiac issues have resolved, but symptoms have improved following treatment for heart failure or atrial fibrillation, Carta said.

It is known that Zika can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in babies born to women infected with the virus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological condition that can lead to muscle weakness and, in severe cases, paralysis.

“Following this research, we want patients who are suffering from Zika symptoms also to be aware of the cardiac symptoms because they might not connect the two,” Carta said. (IANS)

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Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms

Zika virus is widely known for causing children to be born with a brain abnormality called microencephaly and other malformations

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Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms
Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without any Symptoms. (IANS)

Pregnancy loss due to Zika infections that do not show any symptoms may be a common but unrecognised cause of miscarriages and stillbirths, raising concerns that the complications could be more common than currently thought, researchers say.

The findings showed that 26 per cent of non-human primates infected with Zika during early stages of pregnancy experienced miscarriage or stillbirth even though the animals showed few signs of infection.

“These rates of foetal losses and stillbirths in Zika-infected pregnant monkeys were about four-fold higher than what is normally seen in unexposed monkey populations at these research centers,” said Koen Van Rompay, scientist at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis).

“Many of the foetal and placental tissues had evidence of Zika virus replication and also had pathological lesions, which further supports the role of Zika virus in this detrimental outcome,” Rompay added.

Zika virus is widely known for causing children to be born with a brain abnormality called microencephaly and other malformations. Zika disease in human adults includes fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain, as well as red eyes; however, most are asymptomatic.

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“For pregnant women who live in areas where Zika virus is prevalent, and who may experience spontaneous abortions, the possible link to Zika virus infection may be missed,” said Lark Coffey, an arbovirologist at UC Davis.

“Our data in monkeys indicate more research is needed, so researchers can develop intervention strategies to protect pregnant women and their foetuses from Zika virus,” he noted in the paper published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Also Read: Study: Zika’s Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults

For the study, the data were aggregated from six National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs), where the team monitored pregnant rhesus macaques to follow the progress of Zika virus in the bodies and into their foetuses and the tissues that support foetal development.

The results showed that exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy was more likely to result in foetal death — a finding that parallels human reports.

Moreover, placental dysfunction, which is commonly presented in the form of increased placental calcification during ultrasound examinations may also affect the foetus development, the researchers said. (IANS)