Research done partly in San Antonio indicates that the unnoticed impact of the Zika virus on pregnant women may be far worse that first thought, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes, first became a concern in Texas after a series of cases in Brazil produced a large spike in babies born with the birth defect called 'microcephaly,' which is an abnormality in the brain that can lead to sensory defects and blindness.
But now, the National Primate Research Center branch in San Antonio, which is a unit of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, has determined a potential connection between Zika and an increased risk of stillbirth and miscarriaige.
"This is an important study where all of the primate centers collaborated to provide enough data and information to further our understanding of Zika's effect on pregnancy," said Scientist Jean Patterson, Ph.D., of Texas Biomed.
There have been a handful of Zika cases reported in Texas over the past three summers, but the disease is still a major threat, especially to the southern part of the state, and individuals, especially pregnant women, are encouraged to take precautions against mosquitos.
A study published in the journal Nature Medicine shows primates which had been exposed to the Zika virus experienced higher levels of miscarriage and stillbirth. The authors conclude "the high rates of fetal loss among ZIKV infected non-human primate pregnancies raises concern that Zika-associated pregnancy loss in humans may be more frequent than currently thought.
"In several south Texas counties, OB-GYNs are urged to test pregnant women at least three times during their pregnancies for any indications of Zika related symptoms.