CBS NEWS —The more researchers learn about the Zika virus, the scarier it appears, federal health officials said Monday as they urged more money for mosquito control and to develop vaccines and treatments.
Scientists increasingly believe the Zika virus sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean causes devastating defects in fetal brains if women become infected during pregnancy.
“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a White House briefing.
And while experts don’t expect widespread outbreaks in the continental U.S., “we absolutely need to be ready,” she said.
President Barack Obama has sought about $1.9 billion in emergency money to help fight the Zika epidemic internationally and to prepare in case the virus spreads here, but the request has stalled in the GOP-controlled Congress. Last week, the administration said it would use $589 million in funds left over from the Ebola outbreak for some of that work.
But that “is not enough for us to get the job done,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, whose agency hopes to have a possible vaccine ready for first-stage safety testing in early fall. “It’s just a temporary stopgap.”
Zika was long considered a nuisance virus, causing only mild symptoms, if any, in most people. But starting with reports from Brazil, over the last year infections in pregnant women have been strongly linked to babies born with unusually small heads, a birth defect called microcephaly that can signal underlying brain damage.
“I’m not an alarmist,” Fauci said, but he and Schuchat cited growing reason for concern about Zika:
— Researchers also have linked Zika to stillbirths, miscarriages, eye problems and other complications, with complications not only in the first trimester but throughout pregnancy.
This report from the CDC confirms what many of us already knew: the Zika virus isn’t going away soon and is now making its way into the US. So, the question is how can you protect your family? Well, we would suggest having one of our reps come to your home and put together a mosquito control program. You can find more information on it here: B & B Pest Control Mosquito Treatment.