Zika Virus
Guilherme Soares Amorim, 2 months, who was born with microcephaly, gets his head measured by his mother Germana Soares, at her house in Ipojuca, Brazil, February 1, 2016. Brazil's top health official said on Monday that the Zika virus outbreak is proving to be worse than believed because most cases show no symptoms, but improved testing should allow the country to get a better grip on the burgeoning public health crisis. Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

Zika virus, which has already spread panic and caused a lot of troubles, now has new offerings. Apart from causing paralysis and microcephaly (birth deformities) in babies, the Zika virus has now been linked to a deadly type of brain inflammation and acute myelitis in adults.

The virus was found in the spinal fluid of an 81-year-old man. He was hospitalised in January, near Paris, after returning from a month-long cruise. The man was semi-comatose, had high fever and partial paralysis. He was soon diagnosed with Meningoencephalitis. It is an inflammation of the brain and its membrane.

Although the presence of the virus does not prove it caused the disease, the co-author of the paper and specialist at the hospital which treated the patient, Guillaume Carteaux, said that all other infectious causes, bacterial or viral, were ruled out.

“It is the first case of its kind to be reported, to our knowledge,” he told AFP.

The patient was reportedly in good health during his New Caledonia, Vanuato, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand cruise. The team of researchers has warned clinicians after this case that Zika virus may be associated with meningoencephalitis.

A different French team of experts also found a link between the Zika virus and paralysis-causing myelitis. They handled the case of a 15-year-old girl from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, who was diagnosed with acute myelitis and also had high levels of Zika in her urine, blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Myelitis is a spinal cord inflammation that may affect limb movement and also cause paralysis by disrupting communication between the spinal cord and the rest of the body.

The Zika outbreak has hit Brazil the most. It has already registered more than 1.5 million cases and 745 confirmed cases of microcephaly in babies born to women infected with the virus while they were pregnant.