One step closer to a Zika vaccine for pregnant women

Henrietta Brewer
July 14, 2017

Zika virus causes a mild, flu-like illness in most people, but to pregnant women the dangers are potentially much worse.

As part of the study, groups of 18 to 20 female mice were vaccinated with one of the vaccines or a placebo, and some animals received a second dose of the same vaccine or placebo a month later.

Next, researchers mated the female mice and infected them with Zika virus.

A week after infection, the researchers found that, among the mice treated with the subunit vaccine, more than half had no Zika RNA at all in their placenta and fetus, according to a press release.

"Testing of placental tissues from live births can continue to be considered when results of maternal Zika virus testing are not definitive or testing is not performed within the optimal time", the authors wrote.

The treatment also restricted Zika infection in the foetal head and led to a larger foetal body size, suggesting that the drug limits cross-placental transmission of the virus. But campaigners on Thursday said a lack of government investment in sanitation services for the poor, insecure water access and other conditions which exacerbated the crisis are still present in Brazil, raising the potential of future outbreaks.

"Years of neglect contributed to the water and wastewater conditions that allowed the proliferation of the Aedes mosquito and the rapid spread of the virus", the report said.

The report also called on Brazilian authorities to decriminalize abortion and to provide children with Zika syndrome with services enabling them to have "the best possible quality of life". They also examined government and other data on health surveillance, water issues, and budgets.

However more than a third of Brazil's 206 million people lack access to a continuous water supply and adequate sanitation, leaving them vulnerable...

It said criminalizing abortion had led many pregnant and women to turn to clandestine procedures that were often unsafe.

Zika made worldwide headlines when it was linked to an epidemic of babies born with microcephaly in Brazil.

Zika infections are down substantially this year, including a 56 percent drop in NY from the same time last year, USA Today reported Wednesday. In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the first local Zika cases in India, all in Gujarat state in the west. He added that microcephaly can result from many different viruses and that so far India hasn't detected any Zika-linked microcephaly cases.

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