“Zika”, a threat to children, a threat to the economy.

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 Zika was long considered not relevant and not worth investigating. However, the emergence of the virus in the Americas made it painfully clear that the virus is more dangerous than scientists reckoned a short time ago. There is a risk of spread of Zika virus disease in the European Region but this risk varies from country to country. The virus is associated with birth defects and evidence is accumulating that the virus is indeed the cause of malformations in unborn babies. Several viruses may cause birth defects and the most dangerous time appears to be earlier in the pregnancy, when damage to just a few cells has large consequences. However, there is evidence that infection with Zika virus at any point during a pregnancy can endanger the baby. Even asymptomatic infections, which occur in up to 75% of cases, are still dangerous to the unborn child. Babies with severe birth defects have been born to women who experienced asymptomatic infections, and therefore, the fear of an invisible epidemic of birth defects is substantial. It is not clear why Zika spread so quickly throughout the Americas and whether some factors may have facilitated this process. Since other viruses similar to Zika circulate in the affected areas, it is likely that cross-reactivity between Zika and other similar viruses play an important role. If proven, this will have have a huge impact on the use of vaccines against dengue or Zika. 

In February 2016, the Zika virus outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO). The emergence of Zika in the Americas was associated with severe complications such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Although several studies have confirmed the association of Zika virus infection with microcephaly, several things remain unknown. This project aims at understanding the long-term effects in children born from mothers that were infected during pregnancy, but have not developed microcephaly.


What is the context of this research?

The currently on-going Zika virus epidemic has rapidly spread throughout South and Central America. Infection with Zika virus has not only been associated with relatively mild clinical disease, but recently also appeared to be associated with neurological disease manifestations that had not been reported before: microcephaly in unborn babies, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and encephalitis. There is also recent evidence that Zika virus may be associated with miscarriage as well. However, not all children born from mothers infected with Zika virus during pregnancy develop microcephaly and it is less clear what the long-term effects will be in these children. For example, development of other neurological problems, such as epilepsy has been associated with infection of children with neurotropic viruses, such as herpes simplex virus. Infection of mice with neurotropic viruses also provided evidence that brain infection is linked to development of epileptic seizures.


What is the significance of this charity project?

It is not known what the long-term consequences of the Zika epidemic in the Americas are. If pre-natal or neonatal infection with Zika increases the chance of developing neurological disorders such as epilepsy, it may have a huge economical impact and prevention of infection becomes crucial.


What are the goals?

  • Determine the long-term consequences of pre-natal and neonatal Zika virus infection in a prospective cohort in the Dutch Caribbean
  • Study the effect of brain infection on development of epilepsy in the mouse model


Overview investment of the money

Request: Artemis One Health Research Foundation is  seeking up as much as €60.000 in funding for this charity project

Laboratory consumables   €48,300
Meetings (2,5%)      €1500
Maintanance equipment necessary for the project (2%)      €1200
Overhead (15%)      €9000
Total   €60,000


Use of Budget

More of 80% of the budget will be used for the actual project, which is investigating the risk of neonatal Zika virus infection in development of epilepsy. The work includes experimental studies where animal models will be used to study the role of Zika virus infection in development of epilepsy. Money will be used to finance request for permits to perform infection experiments in animal models, purchase and housing of animals and analysis of results. In addition, children borne from mothers that were infected during pregnancy will be followed for four years to determine the association of Zika virus infection and development of epilepsy and other cognitive disorders. The budget will be used to perform enquiries, blood collection and its analysis and analyzing results. The budget will also cover indirect costs that are crucial to perform the proposed work, which include maintenance of equipment relevant to execute the project, overhead, and meetings that are necessary to manage the project and discuss results and further steps forward. The work will start as soon as 80% of the requested funding is achieved. The duration of the project is envisioned to be 5 years.

Our researchers will share the outcomes of the experiment directly with the backer who signed in for this particular newsletter. The outcomes of this project will be published in the form of peer-reviewed journal publication, open data sets, graduate theses, academic posters, and more.


Artemis One Health Research Foundation depends to a great extent on the support and generosity of donors for the success of our research projects. To guarantee that more than 80% of the donations goes to research, we need another source of funding to cover the salary for a technician to do the work. For this specific project we are seeking support for one technician for the duration of 5 years. The costs for personnel are estimated at 43,940 euro per year. Note that such a technician can be used for max three of the project lines of Artemis. In the face of lack of support for personnel, we will cover the personnel costs from own investments. However as a foundation relying on donations for specific programs we will appreciate your generosity to help us cover the personnel cost of this project. Are you a strong believer in our mission and do you/your organization want to support us in this fight, please feel free to contact our head Research & Development, Dr. Byron Martina by email b.martina@artemisonehealth.com or office phone +31 (0)30 635 5444.


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* Please read these Terms & Conditions carefully. By donating you are agreeing to these terms and conditions. If you have any queries regarding our Charity Donation Services, please contact our Fundraising Officer, by email e.martina@artemisonehealth.com or office phone +31 (0)30 635 5444.




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