Wednesday December 12, 2018

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

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation

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Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus
Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus. (IANS)
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Scientists have discovered that Zika virus infection that can lead to birth defects and other complications such as seizures and long-term deficits in brain structure and behaviour, also persists in adulthood.

In the study, a team of neuroscientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, infected three-day-old infant mice with the Zika virus and monitored their behavioural and neurological development until adulthood to observe several early and late symptoms.

They found that most of the infected mice developed spontaneous seizures as soon as nine days after birth, and remained more susceptible to chemically-induced seizures in adulthood compared to controls.

This indicates that even though the spontaneous seizures may have been resolved as the animals grew older, the damage caused to the brain is permanent, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Furthermore, the infected mice demonstrated weight loss that is not recovered in adulthood, cognitive deficits and long-lasting impaired motor function.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The memory and sociability of adult mice were also affected, which may be linked to research that viral exposure shortly before or after birth may be associated to late development of autism and schizophrenia.

These behavioural deficits were also accompanied by persistent viral replication and inflammation in the brain.

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation.

One of these molecules is the Tumor Necrosis Factor Alfa, or simply TNF-a, a molecule closely linked to episodes of acute inflammation in the body.

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When administered, infliximab — a drug that inhibits TNF-a — prevented seizures in young infected mice by Day 12, suggesting that targeting cerebral inflammation could ameliorate some of the long-term consequences of neonatal Zika infection, the researchers said.

“Young mice responded very well to the TNF-a inhibitor. We found that some animals had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of seizures, on average. Also, adult animals were no longer susceptible to drug-induced seizures,” said Julia Clarke from the varsity. (IANS)

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Fetal Microcephaly Not Found In The Zika Virus Strain Of Rajasthan

In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in the beginning of 2017

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Nurses set up a mosquito tent over a hospital bed, as part of a precautionary protocol for patients who are infected by Zika at Farrer Park Hospital in Singapore Sept. 2, 2016 (VOA)

Zika virus strains linked to fetal microcephaly were not found in Rajasthan, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Microcephaly is a birth defect in which babies are born with extremely small heads.

“Advanced molecular studies of zika virus strains, carried out through Next Generation Sequencing suggest that the known mutations linked to fetal microcephaly and high transmissibility of zika virus in aedes mosquitoes are not present in the current zika virus strain that has affected Rajasthan,” a statement by the Ministry said.

Zika
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)

It said the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV) had sequenced five zika virus strains collected at different time points of the Jaipur outbreak, which has affected 135 persons.

However, the government is maintaining high vigil of the possibility of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to zika virus as the strain may mutate in future or some other unknown host factors may play a role in microcephaly and other birth defects.

The Ministry said the situation is being reviewed on a daily basis.

Around 2,000 samples were tested for zika virus, of which 159 positive cases have been confirmed.

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FILE – A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates in the street against mosquito breeding to prevent diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 15, 2016. VOA

“Adequate numbers of testing kits have been provided to the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories,” the statement said.

Rajasthan government has been supplied with Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material to create awareness about zika virus disease and its prevention strategies.

All pregnant mothers in the area are being monitored through National Health Mission (NHM). Extensive surveillance and vector control measures are being taken up in the area as per protocol by the state government.

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FILE – A mother holds her son who is 4-months old and born with microcephaly, in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, Feb. 11, 2016. Researcher Carlos Pardo says that during the height of the Zika outbreak the magnitude of the paralytic disease Guillain-Barre was similar to that of microcephaly but went underreported. (VOA)

Zika virus disease is an emerging disease currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide. Symptoms of zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

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In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in the beginning of 2017 and the second in July 2017 from Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.

It is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern vide World Health Organization’s notification issued on November 18, 2016. (IANS)