Zika Virus Symptoms: Experts Believe Infection 'Hides' Behind Organs Making it Difficult to Cure
The Zika virus is developing for the worse.
New developments with regard to the aggressive virus first detected in Latin America could either help on its treatment or cause alarm among those who live in tropical countries. Top U.S. health experts told Reuters last Friday that the virus was found to be capable of living in parts of the human body that are not protected by the immune system. Because of this, the virus will be harder to fight off and it is likely the virus' transmission over time will lengthen.
The Zika virus is not in any way found to cause severe symptoms to those who acquired it. It is, however, linked to microcephaly -- a birth defect in babies whose mothers were inflicted with the virus -- and the Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. On Feb. 1, the World Health Organization declared the Zika as a global health emergency.
Many organs in the human body are considered "immune privileged." Some of them are the testes, the eyes, the placenta and the brain. These are generally protected from attacks launched by the immune system in order to neutralize foreign invaders.
"The virus can continue to persist and or multiply," notes Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "The virus is in a bubble of sorts," he adds.
Scientists have discovered that the Zika virus can be detected in semen for 62 days after a person is infected. This supports evidence of the virus's presence in fetal brain tissue, placenta and amniotic fluid.
"Right now, we know it's in the blood for a very limited period of time, measured in a week to at most 10 days. We know now, as we accumulate experience, it can be seen in the seminal fluid. We're not exactly sure after the infection clears, where else it would be," says Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"These are all things that need to be carefully examined in natural history and case-control studies," Fauci added.
Moreover, Fauci was not surprised when it was found that Zika persists in semen. At least two reports have confirmed that the virus was likely transmitted sexually. The duration though has been yet to be discovered.
Meanwhile, WHO announces that a commercially available text for the Zika virus could be available in weeks and not years as many believe, according to a report by USA Today.
The test would help diagnose patients in a shorter amount of time as well as help researchers monitor populations and the spread of the virus - thus speeding up research, according to Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general for Health Systems and Innovation at the WHO.