Aug 23, 2016

Zika Images Show 'Worst Brain Infections That Doctors Will Ever See'

Brazil
by
Michaeleen Doucleff
,
NPR
Zika infections during gestation can damage other parts of the body besides the brain. In this case, the baby was born with severe stiffness in the joints, which keeps the baby from straightening arms and legs normally. The baby's brain shows the telltale sign of an infection: white dots called calcification. Image: Radiological Society of North America
Zika infections during gestation can damage other parts of the body besides the brain. In this case, the baby was born with severe stiffness in the joints, which keeps the baby from straightening arms and legs normally. The baby's brain shows the telltale sign of an infection: white dots called calcification. Image: Radiological Society of North America

This baby was born with a normal-size head. But MRI scans show the brain is filled with fluid and little brain tissue. The cortex of the brain is normally folded, but in this case, the cortex is smooth. Photo: Courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

A series of medical images published Tuesday offer the most complete picture, so far, of how the Zika virus can damage the brain of a fetus.

"The images show the worst brain infections that doctors will ever see," says Dr. Deborah Levine, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who contributed to the study. "Zika is such a severe infection [in fetuses]. Most doctors will have never seen brains like this before"