Two Miscarriages in the U.S. Believed to be Linked to Zika Virus

Two Miscarriages in the U.S. Believed to be Linked to Zika Virus
Science & Medicine

The Zika virus is believed to have caused miscarriages in 2 women in America who recently traveled abroad, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

If you want a little background on the Zika Virus before reading on, check out the video below.

The women miscarried after returning home, and the virus was found in their placentas. Thousands of miscarriages have been reported in Brazil, the epicenter of a massive Zika epidemic. In Salvador, Brazil’s 3rd largest city, researchers are looking into miscarriages and stillbirths at 3 maternity hospitals for possible links to the virus.

This is the first time that miscarriages have been linked to Zika in the United States, however.

Dr. Sherif Zaki, the chief pathologist for the CDC, said that the women miscarried early in their pregnancies, but didn’t specify where they had traveled to or where they currently live.

During a House panel Wednesday, the agency confirmed that it had identified the Zika virus in tissue samples taken from 2 Brazilian babies who died from microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with an abnormally small brain and head.

Researchers haven’t been able to positively identify a link between Zika and microcephaly, but Slovenian researchers said they uncovered the “most compelling evidence to date” of the association when they performed an autopsy on a fetus with the condition. [1]

The fetus’ mother became pregnant while working in Brazil in February 2015. She contracted Zika and returned to Slovenia, where brain abnormalities were detected in the fetus during a 29-week ultrasound.

After she terminated the pregnancy, researchers from the University of Ljublijana and the University Medical Center in Ljublijuana analyzed the fetus and confirmed profound brain abnormalities as well as high concentrations of viral particles in the brain tissue but nowhere near the body.

“The findings of this case report do not provide absolute proof that Zika virus causes microcephaly,” said Eric J. Rubin, associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, but it “makes the link stronger.” [3]

In January, officials said a baby boy born in Hawaii was the first in the U.S. with a birth defect linked to Zika. The baby’s mother likely contracted the virus while living in Brazil last year and passed it onto the child while he was still in the womb, Hawaiian officials have surmised. [2]

More than 4 dozen cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in 14 states at the District of Columbia, with 6 involving pregnant women. Another 21 cases have been confirmed in U.S. territories, the CDC said last Friday. CDC Director Tom Frieden also said the agency believes one case of Guillain-Barré syndrome may be linked to Zika.

Frieden said there is mounting evidence of a link between Zika and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults. Several other South American countries have identified cases of the illness.

Guillain-Barre syndrome causes the body’s immune system to attack its nerves, causing weakness and tingling in in the extremities, and eventually full-body paralysis. In some cases, the syndrome can be life-threatening. Most people with the condition must be hospitalized for treatment.

The syndrome can’t be cured, but most people fully recover. However, they often experience linger effects, such as weakness, numbness, and fatigue. [4]


[1] Fox News

[2] The Washington Post

[3] RT

[4] Mayo Clinic

Featured image sourced: The Hill / Getty Images