Thursday, August 18, 2016

Zika could affect adult's brain like Alzheimer's

Zika could affect adult's brain like Alzheimer's

Zika can 'wreak havoc' in the brains of adults, causing long-term damage that may mirror the effects of Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.

The mosquito-borne infection has already been linked to microcephaly - a serious birth defect in which babies are born with small heads and brain damage.

Until now, the virus was thought to have a minimal effect on adults other than pregnant women.

Most people infected show no obvious symptoms while others may experience flu-like effects, such as fever, headache and joint pain.

But the new findings indicate the long term impact of the Zika infection in adults could be far more serious and sinister.

Experiments using mice engineered to mimic human Zika infection showed the virus attacks immature cells in the adult brain vital to learning and memory.

Over time, loss of these 'progenitor' stem cells could lead to brain shrinkage and the kind of mental impairment seen in Alzheimer's, the scientists from La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology in California, found.

'Zika can clearly enter the brain of adults and can wreak havoc,' said Professor Sujan Shresta.

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