3: Zika Linked with Cardiovascular Complications
Last year, health organizations around the world officially linked the Zika virus
with neurological complications in the fetuses of infected mothers. Since then, scientists have acknowledged the risks that the Zika virus poses to adults as well, and new complications associated with the infection keep surfacing as more research is completed. A new study out of Venezuela, an area endemic for Zika infection, recently revealed the cases of nine individuals who presented with heart complications soon after becoming infected with the virus.
Eight of the nine patients “developed dangerous heart rhythm disorders” and six of the patients “had evidence of heart failure.” These patients did not have any history of cardiac disease, and so it was concluded that the cardiac irregularities were due to infection with the Zika virus.
Because heart complications are known to occur in those infected with severe forms of other mosquito-borne infections, such as malaria, the researchers were not surprised that individuals infected with the Zika virus were experiencing these issues. What did come as a surprise for the researchers, though, was the severity of the complications.
Additional new studies on the Zika virus are providing evidence for the presence of the virus in various tissues in the body and looking at specific points in time to see where the virus was identified in tissues. By studying rhesus macaque monkeys, researchers were able to detect presence of the virus “in the nervous system, reproductive and urinary tracts, lymph nodes, muscles and joints.”
This information can be used in the future to “identify and target reservoirs where the virus hides,” stated Daniel Streblow, PhD, associate professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in a press release on the study.
The Zika virus continues to circulate in many parts of the world and is poised for a come-back in the United States as the warmer seasons approach. With the absence of a vaccine against the virus, infection prevention is still the best way individuals can protect themselves from being infected. However, while personal protection measures may reduce landing and biting rates for mosquitoes, no data currently exists that show personal protection translates to less disease
Read more about the latest Zika complications here