- Study included 112 infants with congenital zika infection for analyzing eye problems
- More than half of the infants had sight threatening eye abnormalities
- When zika outbreak still remains as a public health challenge, study might help deal with it
Zika virus infection is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and has resemblance with dengue and yellow fever. The zika fever usually does not harm the patient much, but if affected during pregnancy it may cause microcephaly and brain malformations.
Infection of zika virus in infants during the pregnancy term can be called as congenital zika infection. In India, as of March 2017, three cases of zika infection were reported of which two were pregnant women. Meanwhile, Zika outbreak still poses public health challenge in countries like Brazil. Statistics reveal that around 1.5 million people were infected with Zika virus in Brazil between October 2015 and January 2016.
Considering the seriousness of congenital zika infection, a new study insists compulsory eye examination of infants with potential maternity zika infection.
Usually, congenital zika virus infection can be identified from
- Severe microcephaly with partially collapsed skull
- Arthrogryposis, the curving of joints
- Thin cerebral cortices
- Early damage to central nervous system or early Hypertonia
The research included 112 infants, and the eye examinations were conducted. Among the 112, 20 infants had microcephaly while 31 infants experienced other central nervous system disorders. Out of 20 infants with microcephaly, 14 had eye abnormalities while 2 out 31 CNS affected infants had eye abnormalities. 61 infants did not have any CNS disorders and eight out of the 60 had eye problems.
In total nearly half of infants with congenital zika infections had sight-threatening eye abnormalities. Impaired optic nerve or retina was the common eye problem found in the cases, as per the research. The study also substantiated that zika infection in the third trimester can also cause eye abnormalities as the optic nerve and other developments of vision may not be completed.
As per the guidelines, if the infant has microcephaly with potential maternal zika infection, then the infant should be taken for ophthalmic examination. However, the study contradicts this and insists on compulsory ophthalmic examination if the mother had zika infection during any pregnancy terms.
The research was published online recently in the Journal of American Medical Association.