Study: Zika virus infections last longer during pregnancy

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers studying monkeys have shown that one infection with Zika virus protects against future infection, though pregnancy may drastically prolong the time the virus stays in the body.

The researchers, led by UW-Madison pathology Professor David O’Connor, published a study today (June 28, 2016) in the journal Nature Communications describing their work establishing rhesus macaque monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center as a model for studying the way Zika virus infections may progress in people.

The team of UW and Duke University scientists — which includes specialists in emergent and insect-borne diseases, genetics and immunology, pediatrics and pregnancy — have been working with infected monkeys for months.

“What we’ve shown in the monkey model matches a lot of what people have observed in epidemiological studies of humans,” says Emma Mohr, a pediatric infectious disease fellow at UW-Madison and first author on the study with Matthew Aliota and Dawn Dudley, research scientists in UW-Madison’s schools of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine and Public Health, respectively.

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