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Author Topic: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?  (Read 1690 times)

Offline thedoc

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simonc  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Dr Chris,

As a virologist could you update us as to the possibilities of foetuses becoming infected years from now from a mother infected this year? Or, similar question, can someone carry the virus for years before infecting a pregnant woman?

If the answers are yes, should we (in your humble) postpone or move the Olympics?

I'm currently ploughing through the R5 science podcasts - and thoroughly enjoying them of course - and so if you answer this I will get there eventually, though a heads-up from you will ensure I tune in specially!

I've looked online and can't find any meaningful information... and the world really does need these answers.


Thank you and kindest regards

Simon.


   
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 17/02/2016 21:50:02 by _system »


 

Offline exothermic

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Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #1 on: 18/02/2016 11:57:24 »
"the possibilities of foetuses becoming infected years from now from a mother infected this year?"

Not likely. The existing research indicates that congenital microcephaly can be detected via ultrasonography, within 13 to 38-weeks from the point of gestation with marked dystrophic calcification in the fetal brain and placenta.

 

Offline evan_au

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Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #2 on: 18/02/2016 20:42:37 »
Quote from: simonc
should we ... postpone or move the Olympics?
A large part of the concern over Zika virus is that it is new.

As viruses go, it is not too bad - most people have no symptoms, and those who have symptoms tend to have a headache, fever, rash and joint pain, which usually resolves fairly quickly. The possible link to brain damage in newborns is worrying, but not unprecedented - rubella in humans has caused similar damage for centuries until an effective vaccine was developed.

A possible concern is whether there are reservoirs in the body where the virus can hide out from the immune system, well after the symptoms (or lack of symptoms) have disappeared. There have been cases reported of sexual transmission from men to women.

The main vector of Zika, the mosquito Aedes aegypti is more of a concern - as well as Zika, it carries known diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria. These are diseases which cause a heavy burden of illness and death around the world.

So Zika is not a reason to cancel the Olympics - any more than  you would for yellow fever, dengue fever or malaria. But it does mean that both the government and individuals need to be careful to apply mosquito control measures to prevent disease transmission via mosquitoes. And women who could become pregnant would probably be wise to avoid travel into affected regions until we know more about it.

"Gene Drive" techniques have been developed which could affect the entire mosquito population (eg to make it unable to carry the malaria parasite) - but it is surrounded with difficult ethical questions.

See: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/mosquitoes:-the-zika-vector/7130558
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/is-zika-responsible-for-brazil's-microcephaly-outbreak/7148978
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #3 on: 19/02/2016 08:53:30 »
"A large part of the concern over Zika virus is that it is new."

Not from a medical standpoint. Zika virus has been around since the1950's.
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #4 on: 19/02/2016 08:55:50 »
"As viruses go, it is not too bad"

Unless you're a foetus.
 

Offline the5thforce

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Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #5 on: 19/02/2016 09:14:15 »
ultimately someday, probably sooner than later, the U.N. will have to make the very tough decision to quarantine entire countries to ensure the survival of humanity (and a humanity worth surviving), the forces of nature will never stop this war of resistance especially not while humans are still handing out antibiotics like candy, until the day we can manipulate our entire DNA in real time- this problem will not go away.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How long does the zika virus remain active in humans?
« Reply #5 on: 19/02/2016 09:14:15 »

 

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