It seemed to burst onto the scene overnight, with tragic pictures of babies born with small heads and damaged brains. Now, the world’s health authorities have shifted into high gear to deal with Zika virus.
How does this virus compare to others, and what will it take to detect or defeat it? U-M virologist Katherine Spindler, Ph.D., offers some key information and a dose of perspective. She’s a member of a national team that hosts a weekly podcast on viruses, aimed at the general public, called This Week in Virology.
Dr. Spindler and her laboratory team in the U-M Medical School study how viruses cross a protective barrier to the brain and what viruses do once they’re there. They also look at how some viruses can cause mild illness in most people – but in immunocompromised individuals, cause serious damage. Working with scientists in Brazil, Spindler’s lab team studies other viruses that can cause brain problems.