One Genetic Alteration Made Zika Go From Harmless To Devastating
The Zika virus was first discovered in a Ugandan monkey during the year of 1947. A few years later, experts determined that the Zika virus would only cause mild symptoms in people who contracted the virus. Since the Zika virus was not a serious public health concern during the mid twentieth century, experts promptly forgot about the disease. However, the Zika virus of 1947 is very different from the Zika virus of 2017. At some point the virus underwent a mutation. This mutation is the reason why infected pregnant mothers give birth to children with microcephaly.
Chinese researchers believe that they have pinpointed a certain time when the Zika virus underwent a genetic change that made it much more dangerous. According to the researchers, the Zika virus mutated during May of 2013. This was right before citizens of French Polynesia struggled through high Zika infection rates, which lasted two solid years. In addition to French Polynesia, three other Pacific Islands suffered through a two year bout of high infection rates. By March of 2015, the Zika virus had arrived in Brazil. I don’t need to tell you that the Zika virus became a significant problem in the country of Brazil. So far, nearly three thousand Brazilian mothers have given birth to children afflicted with microcephaly.
According to disease-control experts, the Zika virus mutated while jumping from region to region during the summer of 2016. Sometimes mutations can bring about differences that make once feared viruses become harmless to humans. Unfortunately, some of the time these genetically altered viruses make infections even more serious. Most of the time, however, genetic changes to a virus do not change anything for those suffering from a virus. The lead Chinese researcher noted that Zika’s genetic change was small, but the symptoms of the virus became much worse for some sufferers, mainly pregnant women. After the virus mutated, it started to go after brain tissue more aggressively. The Chinese researchers are currently researching the neurological complications that some Zika victims experience.
Have you ever considered the possibility that maybe you had the West Nile virus, or Zika, but given your age, you did not realize you had become infected?