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Zika can “wreak havoc” on the brains of adults and cause major, lasting damage

A mosquito Aedes aegypti is seen through a microscope in exhibition on dengue fever in Recife on January 28, 2016 the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. The mosquito transmits the virus Zika and Dengue

Zika can “wreak havoc” in the brains of adults and cause great damage, durable, according to a new study. The research could bring down the assumption that the virus is only of great concern for pregnant women.

So far, the mosquito-borne infection has been associated mainly with microcephaly, a serious defect in babies born with small heads and brain damage. That has meant that pregnant women are advised to avoid contact with the infection -., But others have not shown any symptoms apparent

However, a major study in mice indicates that the impact of Zika infection other adults could be much more serious and sinister than previously thought.

Experiments on adult mice designed to mimic human infection Zika show that the virus appears to attack immature cells in the adult brain. These same cells are vital for learning and memory. – And so losing them could have disastrous effects comparable to those experienced by people with Alzheimer’s disease

Over time, the gradual attack on cells could lead to brain shrinkage and significant deterioration of cognitive processes, said the scientist behind the study.

Professor Sujan Shrestha, a team member of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California, USA, said. “Zika can clearly enter the brain of adults and can wreak havoc But it’s a complex disease – is catastrophic for early brain development, however, most adults who are infected with Zika rarely show detectable symptoms

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“Its effect on the adult brain may be more subtle, and now. we know what to look for. “

the study is the first to examine how Zika attacks the adult brain. it was conducted by using fluorescent biomarkers” tags “which could indicate which part of the brain was invaded by the virus.

the scientists saw these attacks taking place in parts of the brain that are essential for learning and memory, writing in the study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Professor Joseph Gleeson, Rockefeller University, he said. “Our results are quite spectacular – in parts of the brain lit up, it was like a Christmas tree

” It was very clear that the virus was not affecting the whole brain evenly, as people are seeing in the fetus. In adults, it is only these two populations that are highly specific for stem cells that are affected by the virus. These cells are special, and somehow very susceptible to infection.

“Based on the results, it is infected with Zika as an adult may not be as safe as people think.”

Healthy people might be able to resist these attacks. However, people who already have weakened immune systems may be at risk.

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“In subtler cases, the virus could theoretically affect long-term memory or the risk of depression, but there are no tools to test the long-term effects of Zika in cell populations adult stem “professor Gleeson said.

Scientists are still unsure of the extent that the behavior in mice could be applied to humans, or permanently damage suffered as a result of the virus could be. But they still have to work to find out if Zika could cause long-term mental disorder in adults.

“The virus appears to be traveling a bit as people move around the world,” says Professor Gleeson. “Given this study, we believe that the company should consider public health track Zika infections in all groups, not just pregnant women.”

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