JUL 03, 2018 3:53 PM PDT

Undiagnosed Zika Infections may be Causing Miscarriage and Stillbirth

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Zika virus burst onto the scene in 2015, and in six countries, there was an increase in the number of infants born with a brain disorder called microcephaly. In 2016, it seemed like the outbreak, which can also cause blindness and sensory defects, was mostly over. New work by researchers at six National Primate Research Centers has indicated that Zika A infections might also be responsible for stillbirth and miscarriage in women that aren’t showing any sign of the infection. The findings have been reported in Nature Medicine.

Rhesus macaques were one of several non-human primates used in this study / Image credit: Pixabay

"This is an important study where all of the primate centers collaborated to provide enough data and information to further our understanding of Zika's effect on pregnancy," said Scientist Jean Patterson, Ph.D., of Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the Southwest National Primate Research Center.

 For this work, the scientists used rhesus macaques, pigtail macaques, and marmosets, which are several kinds of nonhuman primates. After female nonhuman primates (NHP) were exposed to Asian/American ZIKV (Zika virus) in early stages of their pregnancies, the team monitored their pregnancies by ultrasound and blood draws. They observed that 26 percent miscarried or had stillbirths. Few of those animals showed any other symptom of viral infection.

"The primary conclusion from this multi-center study with important implications for pregnant women infected with Zika virus is that stillbirth and miscarriage occur more frequently in infected nonhuman primates than animals not exposed to the virus," explained lead author Dawn Dudley, Ph.D., with the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. "This conclusion would not have been possible without the concerted efforts among the investigators at each institution to share and combine our data to draw statistically significant conclusions while also conserving precious nonhuman primate resources."

The researchers suggested that their findings may indicate that there may be more adverse outcomes in pregnancy due to Zika virus than what was thought.
 
Researchers are still looking for ways to treat the virus, and are trying to develop a vaccine. In some places where the risk is higher, there is greater vigilance. Along the US/Mexico border, the Texas Department of State Health Services has urged OB/GYNs to test pregnant women for Zika virus three times over the course of their pregnancy. People are urged to use protection against mosquitoes as well.

Get some Zika virus infection prevention tips from the following video. The video above shows an accurate 3D model of what the virus looks like.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via Texas Biomedical Research Institute, WHO, Nature Medicine

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
FEB 03, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
SARS-CoV-2 Can Selectively Delete Some Parts of Its Genome
FEB 03, 2021
SARS-CoV-2 Can Selectively Delete Some Parts of Its Genome
Viruses mutate, and the more they multiply, the more chances they have to introduce new mutations, by modifying portions ...
APR 13, 2021
Immunology
Food-borne Fungus Impedes Gut Healing
APR 13, 2021
Food-borne Fungus Impedes Gut Healing
In a recent study, researchers discovered that a fungus present in cheese, processed meats, beer, and other fermented fo ...
APR 13, 2021
Microbiology
Learning How TORCH Pathogens Cause Brain Malformations
APR 13, 2021
Learning How TORCH Pathogens Cause Brain Malformations
The term TORCH pathogens refers to a group of viruses including Toxoplasma gondii, Rubella, Herpes Simplex Viruses 1 and ...
APR 25, 2021
Microbiology
Plant-Eating Microbes Expand the Tree of Life
APR 25, 2021
Plant-Eating Microbes Expand the Tree of Life
After microbes called archaea were discovered in the 1970s, a branch was added to the tree of life after some debate, wh ...
APR 25, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Natural Molecules Can Stop Antibodies From Neutralizing SARS-CoV-2
APR 25, 2021
Natural Molecules Can Stop Antibodies From Neutralizing SARS-CoV-2
When we're exposed to a pathogen, our immune system normally mounts a robust response against it. Antibodies are generat ...
MAY 03, 2021
Microbiology
A New Bacterial Defense System is Discovered
MAY 03, 2021
A New Bacterial Defense System is Discovered
Most DNA that we're familiar with is found in cells in a double-stranded form. So, many years ago, scientists were intri ...
Loading Comments...