Zika Virus: Beyond Microcephaly
Recent studies showed that Zika Virus in pregnant women can actually cause abnormalities to their fetuses’ brains apart from microcephaly. The study, published in Radiology, a medical journal, was performed on 17 fetuses and babies with Zika and another 28 with unconfirmed infection. 94 percent of these infants turned out to have severe abnormalities in the brain, on top of microcephaly. The findings were made final after brain scans have been done with all of the infants.
Washington, D.C. Division of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology in Children’s National Health System section head for fetal imaging and ultrasound Dr. Dorothy Bulas describe Zika infection as unique in terms of affecting developing fetuses. She says that the virus attacks the brain of the fetus directly, and that the severe abnormalities is incomparable with other infections.
The serious abnormalities have been seen on the fetuses’ corpus callosum or the nerves that are thickly bundled that serve as connector of the right and left brains. These abnormalities cause severe neurological issues in a person. Calcium deposits in the brains of majority of the babies have also been found out. These deposits seemed to occur between the gray and white matters of the babies brains. Abnormalities on the eyes in some of the babies are also among the abnormalities that have developed.
94 percent of the babies in the studies also have shown ventriculomegaly. This is a condition where the brain develops fluid spaces enlargements, which can substitute to the missing tissue in the brain. This means that the infant’s head size can appear normal as well as in ultra sound but can be experiencing birth defects.
Thus, the only thing that can help identify any abnormality in fetuses is the fetal MRI scan. This can provide detailed fetal MRI scans that can help radiologists in evaluating any pregnant women diagnosed with Zika infection, as well as in determining their fetuses – if they are showing any abnormalities as part of the effects that the viral Zika infection can cause. Dr. Bulas recommends this method to be the most effective for the current outbreak and that it will be more than helpful in confirming any brain injury that the fetuses may be developing after birth.
The current study has been launched and published as part of the developments of the effects of Zika virus to pregnant women, which have been linked to the increasing risks of fetus and infant microcephaly. It was also prompted after a baby girl who have been diagnosed with Zika infection in the past have brain abnormalities other than microcephaly in Miami. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine doctors confirmed that they have a baby girl in treatment that has calcium deposits in the brain as well as pigment changes in the baby’s retina.
University of Miami Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Dr. Audina Berrocal explains to WPLG-TV, an affiliate of ABC News, that the calcifications were remnants of the virus or bacteria that thrived in the brain of Zika infected fetuses and infants.