Researchers detect Zika virus in tears

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Zika virus infections are typically confirmed by testing the blood or urine, but researchers have identified another fluid that could be examined.

A new rodent-based study from Washington University in St. Louis has found that Zika's genetic material is detectable in tears because the virus can live in the eyes.

SEE ALSO: Seven things science says women do better than men

The team decided to explore a link between the virus and the eye because, as a university press release states, "About a third of all babies infected in utero with Zika show eye disease such as inflammation of the optic nerve, retinal damage or blindness after birth. In adults, Zika can cause conjunctivitis – redness and itchiness of the eyes – and, in rare cases, uveitis."

Uveitis can, in fact, "lead to permanent vision loss."

RELATED: See alternative therapies for Zika babies

8 PHOTOS
Alternative therapies for Zika babies
See Gallery
Alternative therapies for Zika babies
Therapist Rozely Fontoura holds Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Daniele Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Daniele Santos (R) holds her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, with therapist Rozely Fontoura in her home in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Daniele Santos is reflected in a mirror while she jokes with her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Daniele Santos (L) holds her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, as she talks with therapist Rozely Fontoura in front of her house, in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Therapist Rozely Fontoura (L) teaches Daniele Santos Shantala massage on her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Therapist Rozely Fontoura (R) teaches Daniele Santos to put her baby Juan Pedro in a sling in her home in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Daniele Santos holds her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, while washing dishes in her home in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Therapist Rozely Fontoura (L) teaches Daniele Santos Shantala massage on her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil March 26, 2016. When Santos gave birth to a baby boy with microcephaly, a serious birth defect linked to the Zika infection, she was distraught. She was left to look after Juan Pedro alone after her husband left. In addition to traditional treatment at a hospital in Recife, Santos is learning therapeutic massage from an NGO to help alleviate Pedro's symptoms. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker SEARCH "PEDRO PAULO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

For the experiment, "researchers infected adult mice under the skin – similar to the way humans are infected by mosquitoes – and found live virus in the eyes seven days later."

This finding introduces the possibility that infected tears could transmit the virus to others, but it could also indicate a less painful way to test for the disease.

Read Full Story

People are Reading