1 in 10 Zika-infected US moms have babies with birth defects, CDC reports
Summary: A new study from the CDC shows how women in their first trimester who contract Zika are more likely to have a child with birth defects. 15% of mothers with infections during the first trimester had children with birth defects in this study. A large issue with these infections is proper screening of children born to mothers with confirmed Zika infection. Over half of these babies don’t get any kind of brain scan to check for defects. The effects of Zika are not always physically noticeable. Children who have unnoticed birth defects due to Zika will not receive treatment and could have complications later in life.
Connections: We covered viruses such as zika in class. Zika replicates by using the lytic cycle. It uses its host’s ER to replicate itself (Siaz et al. figure 2). Zika is enveloped and has single stranded RNA (Siaz et al.). They have icosahedral symmetry.
Critical Analysis: The article written by CNN is very simple, it is meant for a very general audience and could be easily understood by someone with little to no background or interest in Microbiology. They did, however, include a link to the CDC study that brought about this article, which I found impressive because most news sources don’t seem to do this. In the video, a mother who contracted zika and her child was affected by zika are introduced. One thing I found interesting was the fact that there was no mention of the little girl being microcephaly, but rather that she had calcifications in her brain. I wasn’t aware that Zika could cause this. I thought that the virus attacked developing fetal nervous tissue, as this has been shown in animals (Nayak et al.). I wonder what in particular caused the calcification?
Question: Why are the mechanisms of Zika so hard to identify? Is it because it is a virus, or because it only seems to attack fetal nervous tissue, making it harder to study in humans?