New study links Zika virus to memory loss in adults

A researcher holds a container with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in the Sao Paulo's University, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The Aedes aegypti is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus. The Brazilian government announced it will direct funds to a biomedical research center to help develop a vaccine against the Zika virus linked to brain damage in babies. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new study out of The Rockefeller University has linked Zika to things like memory loss.

Researchers there injected mice with the virus, and then used fluorescent lights to study which areas of the mice’s brain were impacted by it. When comparing those sections to human brains, researchers found the possibility of memory loss.

Up until now, the main concerns for Zika had been focused on women who were pregnant and their babies.

“If it can impact adult mice brains can it affect adult human brains? And we don’t know,” said Dr. Paul Cook, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Brody School of Medicine.

Although no direct links to memory loss in humans have been found, Cook, who has done local research on Zika, said the virus leading to memory loss wouldn’t be unheard of.

“I think it’s very likely that we’ll find that it can infect human brains,” he said.

More than 20,000 mosquitoes have been collected in Pitt County since April. None of those collected were Aegypti mosquitoes, the primary carrier of the virus now impacting people in South Florida.

However, Jim Gardner, the vector control manager for the country, said Albopictus mosquito populations, which could transmit the virus, remain high locally.

Gardner said local populations act a bit different than Aegypti mosquitoes.

“It will feed on anything that has blood, so even if it picked the virus up, for instance, it’s going to almost dilute it out of its system,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the Aegypti mosquito hasn’t been spotted in North Carolina since about 2008. However, doctors still recommend taking precautions to limit your exposure to mosquitoes.

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