Two women from the U.S. have had miscarriages after contracting Zika virus abroad, according to a spokesperson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Tuesday, Stat reported that the virus had been discovered in the placentas of both women, adding evidence to the theory that Zika can be passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy. Zika, which usually causes minor symptoms in the carrier, has also been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brain abnormalities.
The exact cause of the miscarriages, however, weren’t necessarily Zika. From the Washington Post:
In cases when women have one or two miscarriages, the cause is usually severe chromosomal problems, experts say. “It’s absolutely possible for an infection, whether it be viral or bacterial, to result in a miscarriage,” said Zev Williams, an obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in pregnancy loss at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
“Whether it was caused by Zika remains to be determined,” he said, but urged individuals to take precautions to avoid contracting or transmitting the virus. Some virus infections in pregnancy, like Rubella or German measles infections especially early in pregnancy, can spread from the mother and infect the cells of the fetus and cause direct injury to it, said Jesse Goodman, an infectious diseases doctor at Georgetown University.
On Friday, the World Health Organization announced that a commercial test that would diagnose the virus more quickly and easily could be available in weeks.
“I think we will see a large demand for testing,” said Baylor College of Medicine professor James Versalovic, who is working on developing such a test with Texas Children’s Hospital, Quest Diagnostics, and Houston Methodist Hospital, in an interview with USA Today. Currently, 20 companies are working on developing a test—half are reportedly quite close.
“Public health labs could be rapidly overwhelmed, so hospital and commercial labs must be ready soon to meet the demand for clinical testing,” Versalovic said.
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