The Zika Virus and Infants
Learning that the Zika virus can cause infants to be born with microcephaly was bad enough, but new research has found that it may cause much more damage than we previously thought. The study found that the baby’s brain may suffer even more damage than is initially observed at birth, and it may also affect more than just a baby’s brain.
Doctors have already been performing ultrasounds on infected women to look for signs that the baby’s head is abnormally small, but this new study suggests they may also need to look for signs of other brain damage as well. The study suggests the virus could also cause the brain cavities to store extra fluid, and result in a thinner cortex, the brain’s outer layer.
The damage apparently doesn’t stop there, however. This new case study also found the Zika virus in infants’ developing muscle, liver, lung and spleen in addition to the brain. Doctors are now looking at what kind of impact it might have on these other organs.
And it doesn’t end there. Previously, scientists had reported that the Zika virus only remained in the blood 11 days after infection. However, this new study found that in pregnant women the virus could still be found in the blood ten weeks after infection. The researchers believe that the virus remains so long because, after it replicates in the infected baby, it then goes back into the mother’s blood.
Do you think the Zika virus causes more problems than scientists think even now? What else do you think it could affect?