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Brazilian Scientists Hope To Uncover Clues on Zika Virus From Studying Twins of Christian Parents

( [email protected] ) May 07, 2016 02:07 PM EDT
Scientists in Brazil are focused on women and their new-born twins in their investigation of the mysteries of Zika epidemic in their country, and among their subjects are the twins from a Christian couple in Santos, Sao Paulo state.
Brazilian soldiers conducting inspection for Aedes aegypti mosquito REUTERS

Scientists in Brazil are focused on women and their new-born twins in their investigation of the mysteries of Zika epidemic in their country, and among their subjects are the twins from a Christian couple in Santos, Sao Paulo state.

Zika is marked by the stunted head size of infants when a woman is infected with it during pregnancy. What was baffling about the twins Laura and Luca are that only Laura is afflicted by the microcephaly birth defect associated with the virus. They are among the five twins being studied.

The mosquito-borne virus was first detected in northeastern Brazil last year, and since then the country recorded 5,000 confirmed and suspected cases topping Brazil the hardest hit in Latin America.

"I was hoping the doctors and the ultrasound were wrong, but when I found out one of them had microcephaly it's like the ground fell on me from beneath," said Jaqueline Jessica Silva de Oliveira, 25.

"I thank God for giving her to me...I would never abandon her," Oliveira said giving doctors the nod to subject her twins to a study on what protected Luca from the virus.

The outbreak has become a major concern especially with the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

A team from Sao Paulo University studying the twins, and the four others is hoping to get clues in their investigation this year.

"These twins could give us answers," said university's Human Genome Research Centre Director Mayana Zatz, adding the gene and genome of the twins are among the important aspect.

Zika is evident in amniotic fluid, placenta and fetal brain, and the study will determine if the permeability of the twin's placenta differ.