In recent news, Zika virus has been recognized as a global health problem for prospective mothers and newborn babies. Zika virus is an insect-borne disease that has been strongly linked to birth defects in newborns such as the development of microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which the infant’s head is abnormally small. However, recent studies show that Zika virus causes Congential Zika Syndrome(CZS). CZS can not only lead to microcephaly, but also other symptoms such as fetal brain damage and a range of abnormalities including musculoskeletal, ocular, craniofacial manifestations.
In Puerto Rico, a recent survey found that approximately, 5,900 to 10,300 women may be infected with Zika, and medical professionals are finding this disease to be more of a concern than previously thought when it emerged in 2015. With new findings of more symptoms such as fetal brain damage and abnormalities in the musculoskeletal and ocular systems along with the increased amount of people in Puerto Rico being affected by Zika, scientists are busy trying to understand the cellular basis and forces at work behind this disease. So far, evidence strongly suggests that the timing of the infection – about 17 weeks gestation – is vital in the development of microcephaly and other symptoms in the fetus. Regardless, scientists must continue to investigate Zika and measures to stop the mothers being infected in order to prevent the spread of Zika and prepare for the affected infants.
1. Alvarado, Maria. “Zika Virus Infection.” Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
2. “Estimating the Number of Pregnant Women Infected With Zika Virus and Expected Infants With Microcephaly Following the Zika Virus Outbreak in Puerto Rico, 2016.” JAMA Pediatrics. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.