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Study Confirms that Zika Virus Can Cross Placenta During Pregnancy

01/20/2016 - 09h07



A new study by the Carlos Chagas Institute, of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Paraná, has confirmed that the zika virus is able to cross the placenta during pregnancy. This was the main hypothesis for the increase of the number of microcephaly cases in new born babies in Brazil.

The analysis was conducted using samples from a patient in northeast Brazil who suffered a missed miscarriage - when the fetus stops developing inside the uterus without symptoms of a miscarriage - in the first three months of her pregnancy.

Doctors became concerned after the woman reported zika symptoms, such as red marks on her body, in the sixth week of pregnancy. The missed miscarriage was detected two weeks later.

Samples from the woman's placenta were taken for analysis, with the aim of determining the presence of a zika-type infection. Molecular tests were then conducted, which identified the genome of the zika virus in cells both from the mother and the embryo.

According to the virologist Cláudia Nunes Duarte dos Santos, who participated in the research, the findings confirm the transmission of the zika virus via the placenta.

"It's the first time we've seen the RNA [of the zika virus] in placental tissue," she says. Duarte dos Santos was one of the first researchers to identify zika in Brazil.

A morphological test also revealed inflammation of the placenta, according to the pathologist Lúcia de Noronha, a professor of medicine at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná. "It's clear that the virus has broken this barrier," she says.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Rodrigo Paiva - 18.jan.2016/Reuters
A health agent collects blood from a child with a new test kit that rapidly diagnoses three different mosquito-borne viruses
A health agent collects blood from a child with a new test kit that rapidly diagnoses three different mosquito-borne viruses

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