Deformed Limbs in Newborns Linked to Zika Virus

August 23, 2016

 

A new Brazilian study suggests that the Zika virus can cause deformation of joints in the arms and legs of the newborn infants. This can result in multiple joints being curved or contracted, a condition known as “arthrogryposis.” This is still not confirmed that the Zika virus causes an arthrogryposis, but all of the infants with the pattern of abnormalities in their brains are expected to be a victim of this virus.

 

The researchers don’t exactly know how the virus can cause these deformities. However, in some cases, the arm and leg problems weren't due to the joints but instead it was an issue in the nerve cells that control the movements and due to this, the babies stay in fixed positions in the womb leading to deformities.

 

The virus is suspected to be transmitted by mosquitoes, and this can even cause babies to be born with underdeveloped brains and small heads. A lot of such cases have been reported in the Latin America region, especially Brazil.

 

Florida has known cases of locally acquired Zika infections. So far there are 16 such cases.

In a newer study, the brain joint was examined of a couple of children battling with arthrogryposis in Brazil. All the kids had been diagnosed with a congenital infection which is most likely caused by the Zika virus.

 

One theory after this study is that the Zika virus kills the brain cells and form scar-like lesions in the brain particularly where the calcium is kept.

 

According to these studies, “the Zika syndrome should be added to the diagnosis of congenital infections and arthrogryposis” said Dr. Vanessa van der Linden.

 

There are a few treatments available in the form of physical therapy and surgery, but sometimes it can make it even worse.

 

The children were also tested for – toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis and HIV. None of the children had signs of these infections. But the brains scans showed that the children had symptoms of brain calcification.

 

Because the virus is neurological, there is no definitive treatment and the kids with the virus need a lifelong follow up of treatments.

 

The association with arthrogryposis comes from the nerves as the Zika has a high affinity for nerve cells and not from the joints as most people believe.

 

Dr. Amesh Adalija said, “As the Zika outbreak matures; it will not be surprising if more abnormalities are known to have an association with Zika infection.”

 

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