The Zika virus still poses multiple unsolved mysteries to doctors, including the link between the disease and the neurological problems it causes. Not only does it lead to the birth of children with microcephaly, but many cases of the Guillain-Barre syndrome have been recorded.
Experts around the world have come to the agreement that the two severe neurological disorders are the primary consequences of infection with Zika. Additionally, other impairments of the nerve cell have recorded an increase in people harboring the virus, including myelitis, meningitis, and encephalitis.
Unfortunately, as the disease is spreading it also evolving and this poses problems to experts. It appears that the hidden features of the Zika virus are being revealed as the disease starts affecting larger populations. Since it has started causing other disorders, it has become clear that the virus is in constant evolution. These two elements have determined experts to focus on the Guillan-Barre syndrome and microcephaly.
According to Dr. Peter Hotez who works at the Baylor College of Medicine,
“What we’re seeing are the consequences of this virus turning from the African strain to a pandemic strain.”
The first time microcephaly was linked to Zika was when specialists discovered that the virus reproduced in the brain tissue of stillborn and aborted babies. The virus was also linked to other anomalies including fetal deaths, fetal growth delay, brain injury and placental inadequacy. Experts believe there are also other consequences of being exposed to Zika when the babies have not been born yet, like behavioral problems and learning difficulties.
Dr. Alberto de la Vega from University Hospital San Juan in Puerto Rico has stated that the virus is capable of much more than microcephaly, but these conditions have yet to be understood by medical experts.
The latest report on the outbreak was submitted by a team of researchers led by Mary Kay Kindhauser to the World Health Organisation’s Bulletin. The scientists aimed to analyze the virus’ distribution and the neurological problems it causes between 1947 and February 2016. Therefore, they managed to create a timeline of Zika by compiling WHO formal notifications and literature searches via PubMed.
The conclusion is that as Zika has spread geographically, it as changed its characteristics. It started as an African strain, and now it affects larger populations, a phenomenon that began in 2007. However, the severe neurological issues seem to show only in the Pacific and the Americas.
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