Adults infected with the Zika virus are at risk of acute hearing loss, according to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The findings add to the list of complications linked to the mosquito-borne virus that can also be passed through sexual contact.
The study was conducted by British researchers and involves three cases of acute, transient hearing loss in patients who had become infected with the Zika virus. All were admitted to ear, nose and throat (ENT) emergency departments in Brazil during the summer of 2015, the onset of the Zika outbreak in that country. Though only one patient’s Zika infection was laboratory confirmed, the other two were highly suspected to have contracted the infection.
The first patient, a 23-year-old man, was admitted after losing his hearing two weeks after suffering from a fever, itching and joint pain. His hearing loss mostly resolved in four days. The second case involved a 54-year-old woman who was admitted with moderate bilateral hearing loss three days after suffering from itching, dizziness, myalgia and headaches. Her hearing issues resolved a month later. The third case involved a 58-year-old woman who experienced intense hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the years, two weeks after suffering itching, myalgia, dizziness and headache. Her hearing resolved in three weeks.
Testing revealed that the first patient had Zika virus antibodies in his blood. The other two patients had both dengue and Zika antibodies in their blood. Researchers say the hearing loss may be a specific manifestation of acute infection caused by the Zika virus.
Source: University of Minnesota