Zika-linked microcephaly in Colombia


The Zika virus has sparked global alarm largely because of fears that the pathogen is causing microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads and damaged brains.

However, the United States resident only exhibited symptoms of the virus when she was on the last week of her stay in the country. The senators warned that reducing funding for Ebola research and treatment to address the Zika virus would compromise public health infrastructures and increase health risks worldwide.
The mosquito-borne virus, which is spreading in Latin America and the Caribbean, normally causes only mild symptoms, if any, in adults.
On the same day researchers announced their findings, Florida health officials said they confirmed one new case of Zika virus infection in Miami-Dade, raising the countywide total to 23 people, most in the state.
Worldwide health officials are examining the connection between pregnant women getting the virus and a birth defect called microcephaly in their newborn infants.
The study is important because it shows the mechanism by which the virus works in certain cells.
The abnormalities included microcephaly, calcification of the brain, abnormal flow of amniotic fluid, abnormal flow of blood to the brain and fetal deaths, the study said.
Confirmed cases of Zika virus infection were reported among women who had traveled to one or more of the following nine areas with ongoing local transmission of Zika virus: American Samoa, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Samoa. A few cases of Zika have been identified in the US, mostly from travel or sexual transmission. Researchers found that after infecting the cells, the virus replicated, killing them and derailing the production of new cells. Most of the infected cells died and others showed disruption in genes responsible in cell division. Researchers say the Zika virus may be linked to a wider variety of ¿grave outcomes¿ for developing babies than previously reported and that threats can come at any stage of pregnancy.
“In summary, we believe that our findings provide further support for a link between maternal Zika infection and fetal and placental abnormalities that is not unlike that of other viruses that are known to cause congenital infections”, the study said.
Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation last month putting more money into preventing the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.
“It does not directly give the proof that this is exactly what the Zika virus is doing in the fetus”.
Nationwide, there have been 153 cases reported, all acquired outside the country.