We've always known that the Zika virus showed up in the blood of the infected; after all, it's spread by mosquitoes, the tiny, winged hypodermic syringes of the entomological world. Then, it was discovered in semen, then vaginal fluid. Awesome. But now, Reuters has reported that "genetic fragments of Zika" have been found in the tears of mice infected with the virus, so now if you have Zika, you literally can't even cry about it. This is just great. Let's all go live in bubbles.
The study was performed by injecting Zika under the skin of mice, similarly to how humans are infected by a mosquito bite. Researchers found live Zika virus in the eyes of the mice one week later, and after four weeks, they were unable to find any live, infectious virus, but they did still identify genetic material from Zika. Imagine if your job was to get mice sick, and then make them cry. What a world we live in. What this all means is that scientists are considering that tears could possibly be another vector for human transmission, but more research needs to be done. Washington University ophthalmologist Dr. Rajendra S. Apte said a study is planned to investigate whether the virus "persists in the cornea or other compartments of the [human] eye."
Meanwhile, over in Washington, the National Institutes of Health are trying to come up with a Zika vaccine, but they're going to run out of money in about three weeks. And the Senate, fresh off of its two-month vacation, has failed to pass a bill allotting more money to fight the virus, because Republicans are holding the Zika funding hostage in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, according to CNN, and protect the First Amendment rights of people who died defending slavery 150 years ago. That seems perfectly reasonable and exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they envisioned America's future.
Back to the Zika tears. The new discovery could help explain why Zika is spreading so much more rapidly than other mosquito-borne viruses. Washington University's Dr. Michael Diamond told Reuters that "Sexual transmission is probably not playing a major role, but it could be some other bodily fluid – saliva, or urine or tears." Gross! And also troubling, since it's recently been hypothesized, that in addition to causing microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, Zika may cause brain damage in healthy adults. It's going take a lot more money and time before we see the end of this mess, so everybody stay away from each other's fluids for a while, OK? It's a good practice, anyway, to be honest.