Study: Zika may affect adult brain cells

A new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell finds that the Zika virus could impact stem cells known as neural progenitor cells in adult brains of mice. Since these cells are essential for learning and memory development, there are fears that this new finding could mean that infected adults will be more at risk for depression and even Alzheimer's disease. 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Laura Fisher points out the limitations of this study, which was conducted on a select group of mice, not humans. She says she is not alarmed because the study used mice with compromised immune systems.

Zika virus has been around for a while. It came from Africa and then was in Micronesia and now it is in South and Central America. And there really aren't reports of long-term neurologic infections in the adults who have had Zika virus.

But with many New Yorkers concerned about proven consequences of Zika and dozens of pregnant women in New York now infected with the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his concern earlier this week and emphasized the need for funding to remain vigilant in the fight against Zika.

While Dr. Fisher does not view the new research as conclusive, she continues to be concerned about the impact of Zika on fetuses and urges caution and care in order to prevent transmission. She says if you travel to areas with Zika, you should avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent. She also says be careful about having sexual intercourse with someone who has traveled to a Zika area.