More scary news about the Zika virus. Not only can it turn the fetal brain into liquid, now scientists believe that the virus could cause a serious brain disorder in adults, as well. This information does not pair well with recent reports that many Americans know close to nothing about the virus and aren’t too worried about it spreading to the United States.
However, there’s plenty of reason for concern here at home. According to Reuters, scientists have already linked Zika to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause temporary paralysis and reliance on respirators for breathing. Now Brazilian scientists have linked this virus to acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, an autoimmune disorder that targets the central nervous system. Here’s more information on how ADEM works:
ADEM typically occurs in the aftermath of an infection, causing intense swelling in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin, the white protective coating surrounding nerve fibers. It results in weakness, numbness and loss of balance and vision, symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis.
In a study led by Dr. Maria Lucia Brito in Brazil, six of her patients infected with Zika developed ADEM (two of them) and Guillain-Barre (four). Thirteen other countries have reported cases of Guillain-Barre linked with this virus.