Zika not alone in affecting fetal brains

Fearsome flaviviruses: A very short note in a recent issue of Science (Vol. 359: 530, 2 Feb. 2018) cites a study from the journal Science Translational Medicine.  Recall the dramatic effects of the zika virus that can infect the developing brain tissue in embryos and fetuses, causing death or, heartbreakingly, brain malformations, notably microcephaly.  Now it appears that West Nile virus (already present here in the US) and Powassan virus may have similar capabilities.  They can grow in the tissues taken from the mother or the fetus.

Establishment of a reservoir of these viruses in a geographic area such as ours is often conditioned on having their insect vectors –  especially mosquitoes – sharing the virus between humans and some forest animals – that is, a sylvatic cycle.  I have more information on this, provided by virus researcher Prof. Kathryn Hanley, in a recording of her visit to me in the KTAL LP FM studio here in Las Cruces, NM.  I made it into a YouTube video.

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