Zika News & Update: Inflammation Makes It Easy For The Virus To Travel From Mother To Baby

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald May 31, 05:00 am

By now, we all know that Zika virus spreads through the bites of Aedes mosquitoes. Now, experts may have found how Zika travels from a pregnant mother to her unborn child.

Placenta is the organ linking mother and fetus; it's also the thing that separates their respective circulatory systems. Experts think that Zika virus crosses the placenta barrier through openings left behind by damage or inflammation, according to a report from Forbes.

Experts also think that the virus travels through the placental barrier by hiding inside a host cell. When virus particles cross the placenta, it can then infect the developing fetus' brain tissue.

Outbreak Raises Warning

Zika has already reached more than 40 countries including the Americas, the United States and the African archipelago of Cape Verde. Europe has also been warned of the virus' persistent spread, with experts warning that the continent will not be immune from the outbreak, Science Daily reported.

The World Health Organization puts European countries in a low to moderate risk category when it comes to acquiring Zika. The most likely possibility is people will contract Zika from other nations and then return to Europe carrying the virus.

Brazil, the country where the Zika outbreak originated, is also seeing major problems now that health experts are calling for the postponement or cancellation of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Last week, 150 health experts issued an open letter to WHO to delay or move the Olympic Games for the sake of the people expected to attend the event, the New York Times reported. The WHO, however, insisted that cancelling or moving the 2016 Olympics will not change Zika's global spread.

Public health experts said the 2016 Olympics in Brazil would inexorably lead to more brain-damaged newborns. They also challenged WHO and said that the sports event will fast-track the virus' spread.

Zika Causes Eye Damage

Researchers from Stanford University said babies affected by Zika should undergo eye checkups after they found abnormal bleeding, blood vessel growth and torpedo-shaped lesions in the eyes of three baby boys, BBC reported. The abnormalities were located at the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the retina, which can be found at the back of the eye.

One of the researchers said some of the eye damages can be treated, but others can cause irreparable vision damage to the babies. Aside from eye problems, the three babies also have microcephaly. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rashes, joint pain, headache, muscle pain and conjunctivitis, or red eyes.

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