Scientists have learned where the Zika virus attacks the body in monkeys.
In their study, researchers saw that the virus invades tissues in the nervous system, reproductive and urinary tracts, lymph nodes, muscles and joints.
Zika then persists in these tissues for at least 35 days, the researchers reported.
“This study helps us better understand how the virus manifests itself so that scientists can develop therapies and vaccines that could work in humans,” said study author Daniel Streblow, from Oregon Health & Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. He is an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology.
“What is different about this research is that we also were able to look at specific points in time to see where the virus grew in the tissues, not just the blood, so we can identify and target the reservoirs where the virus hides,” Streblow explained in a university news release.
The new research significantly advances what’s known about the growth of the virus during the early stages of infection through a month after the infection, Streblow added.
The research was done with seven rhesus macaque monkeys. Experts note that studies involving animals sometimes fail to produce the same results in humans.
The study was published March 9 in the journal PLoS Pathogens.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Zika.