Researchers: Zika Virus May Be Spread Through Tears

DETROIT (WWJ) – The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites, sex and from a mother to her unborn baby during pregnancy — but the tears in your eyes could also play a role.

A new study might explain the connection between vision problems and the Zika virus, says WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites.

Research scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis injected mice with Zika in a manner similar to the way people get infected by mosquito bites.

Researcher and retina surgeon Dr. Raj Apte says a week later they found the live virus in the eyes of the mice. Then, 28-days later, the tears of the infected mice contained genetic material from the virus and they developed eye problems similar to some Zika patients.

“They would get uveitis, which is inflammation of the eye that can cause blindness if it’s untreated; optic neuritis, which is inflammation of the nerve in the back of the eye; and then conjunctivitis, which is similar to what a lot of people get with pink eye,” Apte explained.

While more studies are planned, Apte says these findings may help in the diagnosis and treatment of the Zika virus.

“Because you need much lower doses for the eye you can deliver the medications locally, so this might allow us to do drug development and do it in a much more high throughput way by starting this in the eye,” he said.

Right now there is no vaccine to prevent Zika or specific medicine to treat it.

Learn more about the study and its findings at this link.

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