Reports add to findings of Ebola, Zika impacts

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Two years after recognition of the dangers posed by Zika virus infection during pregnancy, and two years after the waning days of the most devastating Ebola outbreak yet seen, new findings about the impacts of the diseases continue to emerge.

Four newborns with paralyzed chest muscles and twisted joints as well as microcephaly, and lab tests showing evidence of Zika virus, indicate impacts of the virus during pregnancy that affect peripheral nerves as well as developing brains. Thirty-five survivors of Ebola virus with lasting neurological and psychiatric disorders, highlight needs for specialized care in affected countries where workforces providing basic health services remain limited.

The findings were released in separate reports today in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The four Zika-affected infants may indicate development disrupting impacts of earlier infections, according to the authors documenting apparent cases of “Unilateral Phrenic Nerve Palsy in Infants with Congenital Zika Syndrome.” The 35 Ebola survivors represented about 10 percent of a group treated at a Sierra Leone clinic, and suffered new, or different headaches, including migraines, as well as mental health conditions requiring treatment, with no histories of the conditions before their illnesses. Two suffered strokes and died.

Findings from both reports are limited the authors note, and point to directions for further study.

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