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Zika May Cause Brain Damage in Adults, Too

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Zika may pose a danger for far many more of us than pregnant women and babies, a new study suggests.

Mosquitoes have now transmitted the virus in a second area in South Florida, officials announced on Friday, as they advised pregnant women not to travel to the zone in Miami Beach. As the virus spreads in the Americas, with more than 10,000 cases confirmed in the United States, researchers are working to understand its subtleties and develop a vaccine.

In addition to causing the birth defect microcephaly, Zika can wreak havoc in our brains’ stem cells, researchers from Rockefeller University and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology found in a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell Thursday.

The stem cells, known as neural progenitor cells, help replace damaged neurons—the main components of our brain and spinal cord—and assist with learning and memory. Using a mouse model, the researchers found that Zika can target those cells, which can lead to reduced brain volume and complications in brain functioning—similar to the long-term effects of microcephaly.

“Getting infected with Zika as an adult may not be as innocuous as people think,” Joseph Gleeson, the study’s lead author and head of Rockefeller’s pediatric brain disease laboratory, said in a release. – READ MORE

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