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Zika Virus ‘Scarier’ Than U.S. Officials Initially Thought, Linked to New Illness Similar to Multiple Sclerosis 

Getty Images Photo by Mario Tama
Getty Images Photo by Mario Tama

After a recent outbreak in Latin America, researchers have discovered that the Zika Virus is linked to a second type of autoimmune disorder, making the disease a bit scarier than initially thought.

According to a new study from the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, the virus, which started in French Polynesia in 2013 and 2014, has been linked to an autoimmune disease called acute disseminated encephalomyeltis, or ADEM. Researchers reveal that the disease causes the brain to swell and the spinal cord to have damaged myelin, the coating around nerve fibers.

The virus has also been linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. This syndrome was researched heavily by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Symptoms range from weakness of the arms and legs to issues with breathing and seeing, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In the case of ADEM, the disease usually consists of a single attack and most people recover within six months, reports USA Today. In some cases, the disease returns.

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that the symptoms of ADEM can appear rapidly. It starts with fever, fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting, and then it can lead into the most severe cases, seizures and coma.

This disease will do the most damage to newborns. Mothers who have contracted the virus may have a miscarriage. Women who travel while pregnant are at the highest risk for the disease.

According to the CDC, two pregnant women miscarried following their return to the United States after contracting Zika while traveling in February. While the deaths have not been rampant, the threat is very real. In Brazil, three adults died from the disease, reports the “Washington Post.

The disease may not kill young children, but they may suffer from microcephaly, which causes neurological issues and abnormally small heads.

It estimated that the mosquito-transmitted Zika Virus will infect nearly 4 million people in the Americas this year.

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