Zika Update: Neurotropic Disease, Microcephaly in Brazil, Meningoencephalitis Case — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 10, 2016

Zika Update: Neurotropic Disease, Microcephaly in Brazil, Meningoencephalitis Case

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

Here are the latest developments in the Zika virus outbreak:

  • In response to studies suggesting that Zika could survive in amniotic fluid and cross the placental barrier to infect the fetus, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, "we can now conclude that Zika virus is neurotropic, preferentially affecting tissues in the brain and brain stem of the developing fetus."

  • In MMWR, researchers analyzed nearly 600 cases of microcephaly from January 2015 to January 2016 in Brazil. The prevalence of microcephaly was significantly higher in 15 states with active Zika transmission than in four states without transmission (2.8 vs. 0.6 cases per 10,000 live births).

  • In a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine, WHO officials present evidence, albeit limited, that suggests a link between Zika and neurologic disorders. They describe research plans to further investigate causality.

  • Also in NEJM, a letter describes a case of meningoencephalitis in an 81-year-old man after a South Pacific cruise. Reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction assay of cerebrospinal fluid was positive for Zika (tests were negative for other infections). The authors conclude: "Clinicians should be aware that [Zika] may be associated with meningoencephalitis."

Reader Comments (2)

Jorge Vergara Physician, Infectious Disease, ONG IMPACTAPERU Salud y Educaciòn

Zika is an viral disease, 80% the infected patients will be asymptomatics, fetal Mycrosephalia are are sattistically suggested, but demontration doesn't exist yet ( but yes for other pregnant viral infections). The virus is in urine for 12 days, but 62 in the semen. Morbimortality of this viral infection is <1%. We don't have yet pharmaceutical therapy for this disease.

Ann Brown MD FACP Other, Internal Medicine, Memphis

As the brain continues to develop for at least 2 years after birth, is anyone looking at the children born of Zika affected mothers that appear at birth to be normal ?

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