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News briefs

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New evidence suggests Zika virus can cross placental barrier

Zika virus has been detected in the amniotic fluid of two pregnant women whose fetuses had been diagnosed with microcephaly, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases last month. The report suggests that Zika virus can cross the placental barrier, but does not prove that the virus causes microcephaly. “The number of reported cases of newborn babies with microcephaly in Brazil in 2015 has increased 20-fold compared with previous years. At the same time, Brazil has reported a high number of Zika virus infections, leading to speculation that the two may be linked. The two women presented with symptoms of Zika infection including fever, muscle pain and a rash during their first trimester. Ultrasounds taken at approximately 22 weeks of pregnancy confirmed the fetuses had microcephaly. Samples of amniotic fluid were taken at 28 weeks and analysed for potential infections. Both patients tested negative for dengue virus, chikungunya virus and other infections such as HIV, syphilis and herpes. Although the two women’s blood and urine samples tested negative for Zika virus, their amniotic fluid tested positive for Zika virus genome and Zika antibodies.”

Eighth retraction for former Baker IDI researcher

Anna Ahimastos, a former heart researcher with Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, has recorded her eighth retraction…