Immunity may develop after Zika infection

Those infected with Zika virus may cultivate an immunity that bars future infections, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

For the study, researchers sought to better understand the molecular dynamics of Zika infection by monitoring the virus in macaques, primates which are highly susceptible to a type of Zika infection genetically similar to the Zika lineages currently infecting humans in the Western Hemisphere.

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Researchers detected Zika in the saliva, urine, cerebrospinal fluid and semen of the macaques one day after they were infected with the virus. It was also briefly detected in vaginal secretions. Forty-five days after being infected and Zika was no longer detectable, the virus was reintroduced to six of the primates, all of which were protected from infection due to immune responses incited by the initial infection.

"The research shows that infection provides excellent protection against reinfection," said Stephen Higgs, PhD, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University in Manhattan. "This means people infected during this current epidemic will likely not be susceptible again. When a large proportion of the population is protected — known as herd immunity — the risk of future epidemics may be low."

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