Mexico is another country in a long list of countries that are experiencing a Zika virus outbreak. There are 121 reported cases of Zika in the Southern states of Mexico, but health officials think there are many more unreported cases. Brazilian medical expert Sergio Cortes posted an article on his website that said unreported cases of the virus outnumber report cases by at least 10 to 1.
Pregnant women are the main concern as the virus works it way through South, Central and North America. There is strong evidence that the Zika virus may play an important role in the increase in the number of microcephaly cases in the infected countries. New studies show that the virus invades the amniotic fluid during pregnancies and it is also capable of entering the brains of fetuses. Scientist say the virus enters the brain, but it is not found in any other part of the fetal body. Dr. Cortes tweeted that information to his followers. The Zika virus in the brains of fetuses could stops brain development, and that is one of the side effects of microcephaly.
But researchers aren’t sure if the virus acts the same way in every human. In fact, some of the evidence shows it does act differently. Most people have the virus in their blood, but in some cases, it is hard to detect. But most infected people have the virus in saliva and urine, according to a post on the Dr. Cortes LinkedIn page.
There is also evidence that the Zika virus can cause neurological disorders. French researchers discovered an increase in the number of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in French Polynesia after an outbreak of the virus in 2013. Even though the initial symptoms of the virus are considered mild, there is a chance infected individuals may suffer other health complications that are a direct result of Zika activity in the body. Dr. Cortes said no one is sure how the long the virus stays in the body. There is some evidence that points to the virus going into a dormant state in humans and then reappearing at another point in time, according to a post on the Dr. Cortes Facebook page.
The question on the minds of researchers is how long it effects the immune system. Some scientist believe more long-term studies are needed, but the French study does help bring the Guillain-Barré syndrome issue into the spotlight. Brazil has reported more than 4,700 cases of microcephaly so far, but the actual number of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases is still under investigation, according to Dr. Cortes.
The obvious concern over the spread of the Zika virus is well-founded. There are more unanswered questions than answered question, and that makes developing a vaccine a difficult process, according to medical experts like Dr. Cortes.