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Zika Virus and Its Connection to Hearing Loss

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The Zika virus (ZIKV) has been very much in the news in recent years. In 2015, it made its way throughout the Americas; in 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a public health emergency.

The symptoms associated with Zika range from fever and rash to more severe symptoms, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (in which the immune system attacks the nervous system), meningoencephalitis (which combines the symptoms of meningitis and encephalitis) and hearing loss.

With neither a cure nor a vaccine currently available, the battle against Zika is being waged largely in the area of prevention. Pregnant women are a particular focus, since Zika can be transferred from mother to child in utero.

The type of hearing loss most commonly connected to Zika is sensorineural, in which damage to the inner prevents the brain from receiving accurate information about sound. When Zika is discovered in pregnant women, they are strongly urged to have their children’s hearing tested regularly after birth. Hearing loss, if it comes, may not happen right away. And if it does happen right away, monitoring its progress through testing is vital in managing the child’s quality of life.

For sure, hearing loss isn’t the only side effect of Zika; in addition to the other symptoms mentioned above, Zika has been associated with poor vision and microcephaly (in which a child is born with an unusually small head, due in most cases to insufficient growth of the brain).

At Peel Audiology, of course, the hearing loss connected to Zika is where we can offer help. If you are pregnant and have Zika, or if there is a history of Zika in your family, we can’t recommend strongly enough that you start testing your child’s hearing as soon as possible.

Please contact us about age-appropriate testing.

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