As per a new research, mosquito-borne virus causing Rift Valley fever can have highly damaging effects on human fetuses. This can happen if the pregnant women by any chance contract the virus.
The group of researchers, who made the discovery, carried out their experiments using infected rats and human fetal tissues. Those helped them uncover how the virus affects the placenta. And it turned out that those were even more harmful than the Zika virus. The latter triggered a global health crisis in 2015 that caused severe birth defects in thousands of toddlers in South and Central America. The group of researchers published their findings in a journal named Science Advances just last month.
Rift Valley Fever Caused by Zika Leads to Stillborn Babies
So far, Rift Valley fever has mainly affected livestock in sub-Saharan Africa. It has caused almost all pregnant cows to deliver stillborn calves or miscarry. This has caused significant monetary loss to farmers.
But Rift Valley fever not just affects cattle. It affects humans too resulting in flu-like symptoms. It also results in extreme liver issues. What’s worse, the outbreak of Rift Valley fever is not just limited to Africa. At the turn of the century, an outbreak in gulf nation Saudi Arabia claimed almost 700 lives.
At present, there are no treatments or vaccines for Rift Valley fever. Hence, WHO has pegged it as a potential threat to public health. Since the malady is devoid of symptoms in pregnant women, the researchers feel that several cases of stillbirths and abnormalities could have been misidentified.