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Tracking an infection

Swiss hospital starts global Zika virus register

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The Lausanne University Hospital is starting a worldwide register of women who contracted the Zika virus during pregnancy. The aim is to aid understanding of the virus.

The monthly infectious diseases journal The Lancet ID published an article on the Zika register on Tuesday. Specialists David Baud and Alice Panchaud want the register to include as many women as possible who have been affected by Zika during pregnancy. The researchers believe that large-scale epidemiological studies are needed to properly analyse the virus.

Baud explained: “Many questions about the virus remain unanswered and an answer can only be found through investigating a large number of cases.”

Studies published up until now include only a few cases, without excluding other possible birth defects in the brain. The virus can cause a rare skull deformity called microcephaly in babies and is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes.

One of the questions the Lausanne researchers want to find out is whether transmission of the virus through sexual intercourse is as dangerous as an infection from a mosquito.

To obtain the necessary data for the research the hospital has sent 4,000 requests for cooperation to obstetricians around the world. The data will be analysed in Lausanne. It’s hoped that information from several hundred cases can be collected.

The United States also has a register, but only for domestic cases. There is still no treatment for the Zika virus.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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