Deadly Combination of Zika And Chikungunya Viruses May Be A Trigger for Neurological Diseases

Mosquitoes has been causing more humans suffering than any other organism, affecting as much as over one million worldwide mortalities from mosquito-borne diseases every year, according to American Mosquito Control Association. Researchers from the University of Liverpool along with coworkers from Brazil, investigated increasing incidence of brain diseases, presumed to arise from a ghastly combination of two mosquito-borne viruses.

Study findings were published in the Lancet Neurology, where a potential link between the neurological diseases and infection of these viruses was elucidated.

Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by mosquito bites, commonly called arthropod borne virus diseases. Commonly spread diseases by infected mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria viruses, according to Center for Diseases control and Prevention.

Zika and Chikungunya viruses mostly distribute in tropical areas, such as, Brazil and India, where a large outbreak of fever and rash from these viruses had been reported. Commonly it has been known that zika virus causes brain damage in infants, but, as per new revelations, it has been found to cause nervous system damage in adults. Since 2015, according to the study authors, these combinational viruses have caused outbreaks in America, which is manifested by augmented immune response and infectious brain diseases.

Source: CDC
Source: CDC

The underlying mechanism of manifested brain damage induced by these viruses and the potential link with the dual infection is not fully understood and required further elucidation. Therefore, the current study envisioned to critically investigated whether brain damage manifestation is distinct according to the infecting mosquito borne virus, and patients sick with dual viral infections exhibit different diseases spectrum and severity.

Therefore, in this prospective observational study, executed during the epidemics of Zika and chikungunya viruses in Recife, Pernambuco, a dengue-endemic area of Brazil, researchers recruited up to 1410 individuals aged 18 years or older from Hospital da Restauração.

From Dec 4, 2014, to Dec 4, 2016, researchers investigated the potential evidence of Zika, chikungunya, and/or dengue infection by determining the genetic material i-e, viral RNA or specific IgM antibodies in bloodserum or brain fluid. Later, based on the different virus laboratory diagnosis, patients were subsequently grouped, and then the demographics along with clinical characteristics were compared.

Statistical data revealed that up to 201 had mosquito borne infection, had median age of 48, and 106 were females. 148 patients from 201 had shown clinical symptoms of mosquito borne viral infections, where 98 of those 401 had single viral infection; 41 had Zika virus, 55 had Chikungunya, and two had dengue infection. From remaining, up to 50 individuals had dual virus infection, mostly from Zika and Chikungunya (46 patients). Patients infected with mosquito borne viruses, Zika and Chikungunya had exhibited broad range of Central nervous system disease.

Hence, results implicate a large incidence of manifestations of brain diseases caused by either Zika or chikungunya mono-infection or by dual infections. Therefore, possible increased risk of acute brain damage in patients with dual infection demands further investigation.

Senior author Professor Tom Solomon, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at the University of Liverpool explained, “Although the world’s attention is currently focused on COVID-19, other viruses that recently emerged, such as Zika and chikungunya, are continuing to circulate and cause problems. We need to understand more about why some viruses trigger stroke, so that we can try and prevent this happening in the future.”

Source: CDC

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