Potential Health Ramifications of Zika Virus Increase as Recent Research Raises New Alarms


Scientists continue to discover further neurological consequences of the Zika virus — adding to the growing global fears over the connection between Zika and birth defects, such as microcephaly, and adult diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.


New evidence underlines how little is still known about the health implications of Zika. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that researchers have found a possible link between the Zika virus and meningoencephalitis, while French scientists describe a possible Zika-meningitis relationship.


Meningoencephalitis resembles both meningitis, which is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective thin tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, and encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain itself.


WiRED International just released a Meningitis Module, which describes meningitis and its transmission, reviews signs and symptoms, discusses diagnosis, treatment and people at risk. It also looks at viral, bacterial, fungal and other causes of the disease. The module emphasizes prevention through the use of vaccines, antibiotics and healthy practices such as washing hands and avoiding mosquitoes. Currently there are no vaccines for Zika, so if there is a Zika-Meningitis link, for the present, prevention methods will rely largely on mosquito avoidance and sanitary practices.


Meningitis without treatment puts children and adults at risk for complications such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, seizures, kidney failure and death. The Zika virus’s suspected link to meningitis makes the job of protecting people all over the world even more complicated and daunting. WiRED urges everyone to get educated and to follow news updates on Zika and meningitis.