Scientists able to detect traces of Zika from eye swabs

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

A team of Chinese researchers was able to detect the Zika virus from swab samples of an infected party's conjunctiva, or the eye's mucous membrane, according to a recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

While more than 80 percent of Zika infections are asymptomatic, known symptoms of the virus include fever, mild rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Scientists were able to detect Zika RNA in eye swabs taken from six Chinese travelers who contracted the Zika virus while in Venezuela.

"Although isolation of Zika in cell culture from urine, semen, saliva and breast milk has been described, to our knowledge, detection and isolation of Zika from conjunctiva has not been reported so far," wrote the authors. "It may have implications for transmission of Zika, e.g., through corneal graft donors, although this report does not provide direct evidence to support that indication. Nevertheless, epidemiological data and experimental studies are needed to assess the further significance of this finding because of increasing complications caused by Zika infection in neonates."

On July 8, the Salt Lake County Health Department confirmed the death of an elderly man infected with the Zika virus while traveling abroad. Blood samples taken two days prior to the man's death displayed levels of Zika 100,000 times greater than the average level detected.

The case took another peculiar turn when the man's son — who was caring for his ill father — contracted the virus in an unknown manner, suggesting it may be possible to transmit the virus via bodily fluids.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Florida Zika update: Miami Beach transmission zone expands, Wynwood makes progress in mosquito control 
New science proves Zika causes microcephaly 
Low-tech traps target Zika mosquitoes in Miami

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.