Alarming study suggests Zika virus may also affect adult brains

Alarming Study Suggests Zika Virus May Also Affect Adult Brains

Much of the focus concerning Zika virus has been on various abnormalities in developing babies as a result of the infection. However, a recent study by researchers from The Rockefeller University and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology suggests that the influence of the virus maybe much more widespread.

According to a Thursday news release by The Rockefeller University, "Concerns over the Zika virus have focused on pregnant women due to mounting evidence that it causes brain abnormalities in developing fetuses. However, new research in mice...suggests that certain adult brain cells may be vulnerable to infection as well. Among these are populations of cells that serve to replace lost or damaged neurons throughout adulthood, and are also thought to be critical to learning and memory."

In the past year, the virus has rapidly spread throughout the Americas and there's a sense of urgency to understand it better in order to contain its impact.

Sujan Shresta, a professor at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, noted, "Zika can clearly enter the brain of adults and can wreak havoc...But it's a complex disease—it's catastrophic for early brain development, yet the majority of adults who are infected with Zika rarely show detectable symptoms. Its effect on the adult brain may be more subtle, and now we know what to look for."

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