A combination of two mosquito-borne viruses may be a trigger for stroke, new research published in the Lancet Neurology has found.
The study of 201 adults with new onset neurological disease treated in Brazil during the 2015 Zika and 2016 chikungunya epidemics, is the largest of its kind to describe the neurological features of infection for several arboviruses circulating at the same time.
Of the 201 patients admitted with suspected neurological disease linked to Zika, chikungunya or both, 148 had infection confirmed on laboratory testing, around a third of whom had infection with more than one virus.
Of the stroke patients, around two thirds had infection with more than one virus. Many of the people who had a stroke had other stroke risk factors, such as hypertension, indicating that stroke following Zika and chikungunya viral infection may most often be seen in those who are already high risk.
Co-author, Dr Suzannah Lant said: "Our study highlights the potential effects of viral infection on the brain, with complications like stroke. This is relevant to Zika and chikungunya, but also to our understanding of other viruses, such as COVID-19, which is increasingly being linked to neurological complications."