New research suggests another serious neurological condition can be added to the list of those connected to Zika virus infection. According to a small study, the mosquito-borne illness could cause an autoimmune condition known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which shares some traits with multiple sclerosis. The researchers will present their findings this week at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The small study involved six patients admitted to the emergency room and neurology outpatient department at Hospital da Restauração in Pernambuco, Brazil. Each had fever and rash, symptoms common in people stricken by the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Some patients in the study also developed severe itching, muscle and joint pain and red eyes, which are also symptoms of a Zika infection. All six patients tested positive for the Zika virus. The doctors ruled out other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue and chikungunya.
The patients began to experience neurological symptoms, such as numbness and weakness in the extremities and headaches, either right away or within 15 days after presenting with signs of an acute Zika infection. Physicians diagnosed two of the patients with ADEM, which occurs when a person’s immune system launches an attack on the myelin sheaths that surround the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. This leads to severe inflammation, similar to MS. However, MS is a relapsing-remitting illness, while ADEM flares typically occur just once and a person should have a full recover within a few months. Brain scans of patients diagnosed with ADEM detected lesions in the brain’s white matter, which indicate damage to myelin.
The Study referenced above came straight out of Newsweek Magazine!
More bits and pieces about Zika!
Zika is a blood to blood pathogen that can be carried by certain kinds of mosquitoes. It can also be transferred through sexual contact and by drug users sharing the same needle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using only one of four mosquito-repelling ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and oil of Lemon Eucalyptus as insect repellent for these kinds of mosquitoes.
Doctors are also recommending that women who have had Zika wait for at least two years before trying to become pregnant. And disease specialists in Brazil are saying that Zika may also be causing a recent surge in another rare condition Guillain-Barre syndrome which has also been suspected as a possible cause for multiple sclerosis!