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Zika found in amniotic fluid

Thursday February 18th, 2016

Scientists have taken a crucial step in establishing whether there is a link between Zika virus and birth deformities, it was announced last night.

The virus has now been found in the amniotic fluid of two pregnant women with babies diagnosed with microcephaly, The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported.

The discovery was made in Brazil and the researchers said the virus was genetically related to a strain of the virus found during an outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013.

The women had shown symptoms of infection - and ultrasounds taken at 22 weeks of gestation showed their babies had microcephaly. But no trace of the Zika virus could be found in blood and urine samples, according to the report.

However the amniotic fluid tested positive for Zika antibodies and for the viral genome, they say.

Researcher Dr Ana de Filippis, from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said: “Previous studies have identified Zika virus in the saliva, breast milk and urine of mothers and their new-born babies, after having given birth.

"This study reports details of the Zika virus being identified directly in the amniotic fluid of a woman during her pregnancy, suggesting that the virus could cross the placental barrier and potentially infect the foetus."

She added: "Until we understand the biological mechanism linking Zika virus to microcephaly we cannot be certain that one causes the other, and further research is urgently needed.”

Detection and sequencing of Zika virus from amniotic fluid of fetuses with microcephaly in Brazil: a case study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 17 February 2016 [Abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | South America | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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