Zika Virus and Chikungunya May Trigger Strokes


I’m sure you have heard about Zika virus before, but what about Chikungunya? Both are rare mosquito-borne diseases that can cause severe neurological problems. But now, researchers also believe a combination of the two could trigger strokes in adults. Currently, researchers from Brazil and Liverpool are looking into what damage these viruses to do the adult nervous system. Read the full findings in The Lancet Neurology


Currently, there are no treatments for Chikingunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes. However, on its own, Chikungunya can usually be managed with rest, fluids, and Tylenol. While the symptoms may be severe, they are usually not fatal. The virus is most prevalent in Asia, Africa, Europe, and areas throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans. In some cases, Chikungunya has been found on the Caribbean. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Joint inflammation
  • Debilitating headache

Usually, symptoms appear within one week of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Additionally, symptoms tend to last for about one week. Learn more about Chikungunya here.

Zika Virus

Similarly, Zika virus is also spread through mosquitoes. However, in rarer cases, it can also be transmitted through sex, blood transfusions, or from mother to child during pregnancy. Zika virus is prevalent in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and tropical Africa. While symptoms are relatively mild for adults, Zika virus causes severe birth defects. Symptoms in adults include fever, muscle and joint pain, rashes, and headaches. In some cases, it can cause nervous system disease. However, for infants and unborn babies, Zika virus complications include microcephaly, developmental disabilities, and brain defects. Learn more about Zika virus here.

Recent Research

What is the relationship between Zika virus, Chikungunya, and neurological defects? This is the question researchers originally sought out to answer. First, researchers examined 201 patients with the recent onset of neurological disease. These patients were treated for Zika virus or Chikungunya in Brazil between 2015 and 2016.

Next, researchers discovered potential neurological complications from both conditions. With Zika virus, patients could develop Guillain-Barre syndrome. Contrastingly, Chikungunya can cause encephalitis and myelitis (brain and spinal cord inflammation, respectively). While both viral infections cause stroke separately, patients infected with both are at a much higher risk of having a stroke. This means that blood being sent to the brain is blocked, causing brain damage.

Of the 201 patients, 148 had confirmed cases of Zika virus or Chikungunya. Approximately 49-50 of these patients were infected with both viruses. The median patient age was 48, and there were slightly more female patients. By the time they were released from hospitalization, 10% still experienced muscle weakness, seizures, and brain fog. However, patients with both viruses were often older and much more likely to have a stroke. In fact, nearly 66% of patients who experienced a stroke were infected with both viruses. Other risk factors include high blood pressure.

Moving forward, researchers are now better able to recognize how viral infections cause neurological complications. This is especially topical in the modern era where COVID-19 is also causing strokes and neurological difficulties.

Read the source article here.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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