Zika linked to paralysis for first time

A 15-year-old girl suffering from a Zika virus infection was diagnosed with paralysis-inducing myelitis. This is the first case of myelitis — spinal cord inflammation — to be reported during the acute phase of a Zika infection, according to report published in The Lancet by a team of French researchers.

The girl was admitted to a hospital in Pointe-à-Pitre, France. The patient presented motor deficiency in her limbs associated with acute pain and severe urinary retention. She later experienced paralysis on one side of her body. Researchers confirmed the presence of the Zika virus in the patient's cerebrospinal fluid, blood and urine. After admission, the pain intensified and the researchers recorded a loss of sensation in the legs.

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The patient was treated with methylprednisolone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Seven days after admission, her neurological condition improved. She is still hospitalized, but walking without assistance.

Researchers believe this Zika case strengthens the hypothesis regarding the neurotropic nature of the virus. It also, for the first time, highlights the potential for neurological complications in the acute phase of the infection.

The Zika virus has been strongly linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a debilitating disorder in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. Guillain-Barré syndrome has also been tied to the Zika virus as a potential post-infectious complication.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
OPM encourages teleworking for feds in Zika hot spots  
New Zika drug proves effective in mice  
In midst of Zika virus outbreak, WHO issues pregnancy management guidance 

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