The new study published in The Lancet Neurology reveals that two mosquito-borne viruses, i.e. Zika virus and Chikungunya virus may induce a stroke. This disclosure is made by the researchers from the University of Liverpool along with their Brazilian partners while investigating the neurological changes caused by these two viruses.
These two viruses are common in tropical areas such as Brazil and India. Zika virus is involved in causing severe brain damage in unborn children in their mother’s wombs. But this new study shows that it also has the potential to infect the adult human brain.
This current study analyzed 201 adult participants which reported certain neurological conditions and were treated for the Zika virus and chikungunya virus during the 2015-2016 epidemics.
The study highlights how every virus is able to cause many neurological conditions. For example, the Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome which damages the nerves going to the limbs. On the other side, the Chikungunya virus is linked with swelling in the brain and spine which are medically categorized as encephalitis and myelitis.
But stroke, which is most common in any single viral attack has higher chances of occurrence if the patient is infected with both the Zika virus and the Chikungunya virus.
Stroke is a medical condition that takes place when the blood supply to the brain is affected or somehow blocked. The chances of having a stroke are high if there is a viral infection for example chickenpox, HIV, and shingles.
Some health experts also believe that coronavirus can also induce a stroke. But that is a different aspect of research and is not relevant here. The only thing that relates this connection of stroke to viruses is that any single viral infection puts a person to the risk of stroke.
But in this new study 201 participants attending Hospital da Restauração (Brazil) were studied for two years through extensive PCR analysis and antibody testing for identifying the presence of viruses. These tests were performed at Fiocruz laboratories.
Around 1/3rd of the participants reported having both viruses and the median age of these patients was observed to be 48 years. In addition to this, nearly half of these participants were women and only 10% of the total patients were able to completely recover from all the medical conditions. many others were left with continuing signs i.e. weakness, impaired cognitive function, seizures, etc.
The stroke patients that were generally over the age of 67 were checked and 2/3rd of them confirmed having both these mosquitos borne viruses. But the majority of people also had other high-risk factors for stroke such as hypertension implying that viral infection may be affecting those patients who are already at high risk.
Many health experts believe that there are no long-term complications of Zika virus which may leave the patients impaired for life. Still, there are some exemptions where this virus can even take a person’s life. The results of this study are supposed to link viruses with stroke but it might be ignoring other underlying conditions. There are still questions that more extensive research can answer but for now, getting infected with both the mosquito-borne viruses remains a threat for stroke.