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According to Study, Pregnant Women Must Do Several Exams in Order to Detect Zika Virus

11/03/2017 - 12h05

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SIMONE MACHADO
FOLHA CONTRIBUTOR, IN SÃO JOSÉ DO RIO PRETO

A single negative exam may not be enough to rule out the presence of the Zika virus in pregnant women. That's what a new study conducted by Famerp - the state medical school in São José do Rio Preto, in the countryside of São Paulo - revealed.

The study, which was published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, involved the analysis of urine samples provided by 15 women who hosted the virus during pregnancy.

According to virologist and research coordinator Maurício Lacerda Nogueira, urine samples were tested during all three trimesters of pregnancy. There were periods in which viral traces would disappear in test subjects, and then reappear.

In only one of the test subjects was the virus detected for seven months straight. In five test subjects, the results came out negative at first, and positive afterwards. After labour, the virus disappeared in all test subjects.

"These results demonstrate that, during pregnancy, the virus continues to replicate itself either in the placenta or the baby, which act as a reserve for the virus", said Nogueira.

"Since traces of the virus in the mother become very low, they aren't detected in the exams."

The study suggests that, even after a negative test result for the Zika virus, the exam should be redone on at least two other occasions, with a week between each one.

None of the babies were born with microcephaly, although three of them presented complications that were probably caused by the virus. Two of them presented signs of altered hearing, while another baby was born with a brain cyst.

The study was conducted in 2016. The pregnant women received care at the Maternity and Children's Hospital in São José do Rio Preto.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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