The Brazilian strain of Zika virus has been shown to cause brain defects in an animal model, according to a study by scientists from Brazil and UC San Diego.
This is the first direct evidence of how Zika attacks; a mechanism that has been inferred in other studies, but not lab-demonstrated.
The results may prove useful in testing vaccines against the virus, the study said.
Working with pregnant mice, researchers found that the virus crossed the placenta and into their pups, reducing growth in the brain and the rest of the body.
The brain defects were similar to the microcephaly reported in some babies whose mothers were infected with Zika while pregnant.
The key point here is that this evidence highlights the importance of reducing the exposure to the mosquitos that carry the Zika virus if you are pregnant. This is going to continue to be a big issue as we approach the summer Olympics in Brazil. Anyone who is pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant should stay out of Brazil and any other place where the Zika virus has made an appearance, given the evidence published this week.