Mosquito-borne Zika virus can pose serious dangers to the fetus. Scientists have already confirmed that Zika Virus, which is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae can be transmitted to humans through sexual transmission, mosquito bites, blood transfusion and during child birth.
This mosquito-borne virus grabbed international attention in 2015, when a sudden outbreak of the disease was reported from Brazil. Studies have found that this deadly virus has now been detected in 60 countries around the world. Thousands of babies were born in Brazil with abnormally small heads and brains, as they were infected by this virus.
Lead researcher Lenore Pereira, a professor of cell and tissue biology at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a University News release “Very few viruses reach the fetus during pregnancy and cause birth defects”, adding that the situation is grave.
Experts have identified how the virus is getting transferred to the fetus from an infected mother. Studies show that it enters the placenta via two routes, the first during early pregnancy when placenta attaches to the uterine wall and then second time in the latter stage of pregnancy through the amniotic sac.
Eva Harris, a professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health stated, “Our paper shows that Duramycin efficiently blocks infection of numerous placental cell types and intact first-trimester human placental tissue by contemporary strains of Zika virus,” adding that the current outbreak of the virus in the Latin America, has resulted in Zika virus infection during pregnancy. It has led to microcephaly and other congenital birth defects, said experts.
She also added that, “This indicates that Duramycin or similar drugs could effectively reduce or prevent transmission of Zika virus from mother to fetus across both potential routes and prevent associated birth defects.”
Further studies have found an antibiotic Duramycin that blocked the virus from reaching into the fetus, but according to them this drug can lower the chances of fetus getting infected.