New Research Shows Common Mosquito Can Carry Zika Virus

Researchers following scores of pregnant women in Brazil infected by the Zika virus say the pathogen can cause a range of "grave" complications and birth defects - including some that have not previously been linked to the virus - and that problems can surface at any stage of pregnancy.

These findings may correlate with disrupted brain development, but direct evidence for a link between Zika virus and microcephaly is more likely to come from clinical studies, the researchers say.

The researchers said the stem cells targeted by Zika are called cortical neural precursors, and they spawn the brain cells that make up the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain's gray matter that's largely responsible for higher brain functions.

It followed 88 women who went to a Rio de Janeiro clinic between September 2015 and last month, 72 of whom tested positive for Zika.

There have been rising concerns globally about the association of Zika virus and severe birth defects like microcephaly.

The researches from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in the journal Cell Stem Cell that "Zika virus infection of human neural progenitor cells leads to attenuated growth of this cell population that is due, at least partly, to both increased cell death and cell-cycle dysregulation".

Florida received 500 additional antibody tests for Zika this week, increasing its ability to test more than 4,600 people for active Zika virus and 1,500 people for the antibody.

"What they found was 100 percent of the people that had Guillain-Barre had evidence of infection and then ...that again is the strongest evidence so far that this may be a causal relationship", he said.

Three Zika virus cases confirmed in the East Bay today have brought the total number of reported cases in the Bay Area to five, according to area health officials. There's also no evidence that the cells are employing antiviral responses, which means we don't know whether or how the virus is being cleared from the precursor cells. The virus, which can be transmitted by mosquito bite, unprotected sexual contact or from mother to child during pregnancy, is believed to cause microcephaly (abnormally small heads and brains) in infants.

Zika virus kills the type of tissue found in the developing brain, researchers have shown.

Nature reported that the Colombian Collaborative Network on Zika (Recolzika), a group of researchers studying the virus, expects a rise in cases of Zika-linked birth defects starting in two or three months and that researchers are investigating several other suspected cases of Zika-linked microcephaly.

But he stressed that his study does not prove that Zika causes microcephaly, nor that it works by that route. The disease is now most prominent in Latin American countries, as well as the Caribbean islands.

The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services says this is the first confirmed case reported in a Missouri resident.

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