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Researchers Map How Zika Virus Travels To Developing Fetus During Pregnancy

Update Date: Jul 20, 2016 07:40 AM EDT

Researchers from the UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley have discovered two possible routes that Zika virus take to travel from the pregnant mother to the developing fetus.

In a study published in Cell Host & Microbe, researchers attributed the movement of the Zika virus to the period of the woman’s pregnancy. One route called placental route is reportedly established in the first trimester. The other route is related to the development of amniotic sac during the second trimester of the pregnancy.

Virologist and professor of cell and tissue biology in the UCSF School of Dentistry, Dr. Lenore Pereira noted that “seldom do viruses can actually reach the fetus during pregnancy and cause birth defects,” but she suggested to find protection of the fetus.

"Understanding how some viruses are able to do this is a very significant question and may be the essential question for thinking about ways to protect the fetus when the mother gets infected," Pereira said, reported News Medical.

Microcephaly is one of the most common birth defects associated with Zika virus. Pereira pointed out that while birth defects are mostly attributed to infection during the first and second trimester, the UCSF professor warned that pregnant women are equally susceptible to serious birth defects at the latter part of the pregnancy.

Pereira added, "The most severe birth defects associated with Zika infection -- like microcephaly -- seem to occur when a woman is infected in the first and second trimester. But there may be a range of lesser but still serious birth defects that occur when a woman is infected later in pregnancy."

The study also provided a solution to fight the bacteria. They introduced the use of Duramycin, commonly used in animals but demonstrated to be effective in cell culture experiments.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne bacteria that captured international attention in 2015 during the outbreak in Brazil. Records show that Zika virus is now apparent in 60 countries around the world.

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