Study finds Zika virus in fetal brain, a clue in outbreak

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Alice Vitoria Gomes Bezerra, 3-months-old, who has microcephaly, is placed in her crib by her father Joao Batista Bezerra on January 27, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. At least twelve cases in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain are emerging as researchers report finding an extremely abnormal brain in a fetus whose mother suffered Zika symptoms at the end of the first trimester while she was living in Brazil.

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, an abnormally small head. Wednesday’s study offers additional biologic clues.

The woman returned to Europe late in her pregnancy, when scans diagnosed microcephaly. In a post-abortion autopsy, European researchers found the fetal brain not only was a fraction of the proper size but also lacked the usual crinkly neural folds. They found the virus in the brain but not in other organs.

The study was published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

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