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Zika virus and AXL receptor. Computer illustration of a Zika virus (ZIKV) particle (spherical) attached to an AXL receptor on the surface of a neural stem cell (blue). ZIKV is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus that is transmitted to humans via the bite of infected Aedes sp. mosquitoes. It causes zika fever, a mild disease with symptoms including rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. In 2015 a previously unknown connection between Zika infection in pregnant women and microcephaly (small head) in newborns was reported. This can cause miscarriage or death soon after birth, or lead to developmental delays and disorders. Recent studies have shown that the virus may use AXL receptors to enter neural stem cells in the unborn child.
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