The Zika virus has been all over the news recently, most notably that an outbreak in Brazil threatened to cancel the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The virus itself is one of many mosquito-borne viruses (West Nile, yellow fever and dengue fever, to name a few), and the symptoms are usually quite mild for most folks. However, for women who contract the virus who happen to be pregnant, the effects can be profound. It has been positively identified that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a defect which causes the cranium and brain to not grow as much as it should, resulting in serious neurological deficiencies, usually resulting in the death of the child. And while it is quite rare (the CDC reports fewer than 1,000 US cases per year), scientists are still searching for an appropriate vaccine to help prevent it from spreading.
Surprisingly, that’s where tea comes in.
According to a recent study done at São Paolo State University in Brazil, the antioxidant found plentifully in tea, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, for short), pretty effectively blocked entry of the Zika virus into host cells. In fact, they found that high concentrations of EGCG prevented entry of more than a staggering 90% of the Zika virus into the cells.
The authors urge that this is just the first test, and that before tea is implemented as a vaccine many other factors, such as “bioavailability and the safety evaluation of its use … (for pregnant women) …should be improved.”
So if you are planning on going to the Olympics this year, it might be a good idea to have some tea on hand!