Zika virus may live in eyes, spread through tears
Eyes may be a reservoir for Zika virus, say scientists, including one of Indian origin, who found evidence of the virus in eyes and tears of infected
mice, a discovery that raises the possibility that the infection may spread through tears.
Zika virus causes mild disease in most adults but can cause brain damage and death in foetuses.
About a third of all babies infected in uterus with Zika show eye disease such as inflammation of the optic nerve, retinal damage or blindness after birth.
In adults, Zika can cause conjunctivitis redness and itchiness of the eyes and, in rare cases, a condition known as uveitis that can lead to permanent vision loss.
“Our study suggests that the eye could be a reservoir for Zika virus,” said Michael S Diamond, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine.
“We need to consider whether people with Zika have infectious virus in their eyes and how long it actually persists,” Diamond said.
To determine what effect Zika infection has on the eye, the researchers infected adult mice under the skin and found live virus in the eyes seven days later. The observations confirm that Zika is able to travel to the eye.