• Experiments using lab mice have shown how the Zika virus travels through the bloodstream, multiplies in the placenta and invades the brain of the developing foetus, stunting growth or causing death. This was the result of a [air of studies conducted, one published in the journal Cell and the other in Nature.
• Fears about potential choking deaths are being raised as people are moved from Stockton Centre in Newcastle into disability group homes due to its closure.
• Federal Labor MP Kate Ellis says. The South Australian Government needs to tighten laws that currently allow unvaccinated children to attend childcare without any sort of warning to other parents. In South Australia, it is illegal for childcare centres to decline enrolment on those grounds.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 13th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Experiments using lab mice have shown how the Zika virus travels through the bloodstream, multiplies in the placenta and invades the brain of the developing foetus, stunting growth or causing death, researchers have said.
A pair of studies, one published in the journal Cell and the other in Nature, could help scientists better understand the mosquito-borne infection and develop vaccines to prevent it.
“This is the first demonstration in an animal model of in-utero transmission of Zika virus, and it shows some of the same outcomes we’ve been seeing in women and infants,” said Michael Diamond, a professor of medicine, molecular microbiology and pathology and immunology at Washington University in St Louis and co-senior author of the study in Cell.
Mice were infected with a strain of Zika that was 97 per cent similar to the kind circulating in Brazil, where more than 1,000 babies have been born with unusually small heads and deformed brains — a condition known as microcephaly — since last year.
In one of the experiments, researchers used pregnant mice that were genetically engineered to lack the ability to fight off Zika.
The virus killed most foetuses within a week, the study found. Offspring that survived had severely stunted growth.
In another experiment using genetically normal mice, the foetuses did not die but showed impaired growth and neuron damage.
The virus’s genetic material persisted in foetal bodies and brains though day 16 of gestation, a critical period for brain development.
In neither experiment did the mice develop microcephaly, but researchers said this could come down to biological differences between people and mice.
But researchers were particularly intrigued by the way Zika expanded inside the placenta, an organ that develops inside the uterus during pregnancy and nourishes the foetus.
Levels of Zika virus in the mouse placentas were 1,000 times greater than in the blood of pregnant mice.
“Most of the time, the placenta is an effective barrier between the mother and her foetus. But Zika is able to overcome it,” said Indira Mysorekar, a co-senior author from Washington University School of Medicine.
“We see the virus in the foetal blood vessel lining and then in circulation, and soon after, we see that it’s able to go to the brain.”
In a separate study, published Wednesday in Nature, experiments with wild mice using the Zika strain sweeping across Latin America also showed that the virus can cross from placenta to foetus, causing irreparable nerve damage.
These results “suggest that the health impacts of Zika are likely more widespread than we have currently documented,” Dr Muotri told journalists in a telephone press conference.
Fears about potential choking deaths are being raised as people are moved from a large residential centre in Newcastle into disability group homes.
The closure of the Stockton Centre has caused concern, with residents being moved into 88 group homes.
The ABC has been told people with swallowing problems could choke to death, without being hand fed by what could be part-time carers, as opposed to the round-the-clock care available at Stockton.
The General Secretary of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association Brett Holmes said claims of potential choking deaths were not exaggerated.
Mr Holmes is worried health professionals are being pressured not to speak out in relation to potentially deadly consequences under a new model of care.
The New South Wales Government has constantly said that it was committed to having open and transparent discussions with the Stockton families and residents regarding the future of the centre.
The Family and Community Services Department has also released a fact sheet on the Stockton Centre.
The department said the Stockton Centre did not meet contemporary and well-recognised standards for disability services, such as the standards outlined in the Disability Services Act 1993 and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability.
The South Australian Government needs to tighten laws that currently allow unvaccinated children to attend childcare without any sort of warning to other parents, federal Labor MP Kate Ellis says.
Ms Ellis said other states had changed their laws to give childcare centres the right to turn away children whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them.
In South Australia, it is illegal for childcare centres to decline enrolment on those grounds.
Ms Ellis said at the very least, childcare centres should be allowed to declare vaccination rates so that parents were aware of the risks.
“At the moment, South Australian parents would not be aware if they enrolled their child in a local childcare facility how many unvaccinated children their child was playing alongside every day,” she said.
“I think that could be potentially dangerous and at a minimum parents, I think, have a right to know.”
Across SA, 91 per cent of one-year-olds, 87.8 per cent of two-year-olds and 90.5 per cent of five-year-olds are fully vaccinated, according to a recent report of the National Health Performance Authority.
Education Minister Susan Close suggested Ms Ellis’s concerns were not shared by all parents.