Approximately five years ago, a single gene mutation altered Zika virus, making it able to target neuronal progenitor cells and cause what we now know as congenital Zika syndrome with microcephaly and ocular abnormalities.
A new study from Brazil shows a very high rate of fetal central nervous system abnormalities with both first-trimester and second-trimester exposure to the Zika virus, compared with data from the United States and other areas in the world where the rate of fetal abnormalities has been lower.
Two recent studies clarify the substantial risk of congenital abnormalities following maternal Zika virus infection. The risk is highest in the first trimester of pregnancy, and appears similar following symptomatic and asymptomatic maternal infection.
While the Zika virus has been indolent in many South American, Central American, and Caribbean countries, its recent association with microcephaly (and neurologic impairment) has created an outburst of media alerts, response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and travel recommendations, particularly as the world moves closer to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Officials investigating 14 new reports of possible sexual transmission
February 29, 2016
News of the rapid spread of the Zika virus through 18 Latin American countries and the Caribbean has captured headlines. The World Health Organization predicts that the virus could affect more than 4 million people in the Americas in 2016 alone.