Researchers say the more they learn about the Zika virus and its affects on fetal brains, the scarier this virus is becoming. “The more and more we learn, the more you get concerned about the scope of what this virus is doing,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institute of Health (NIH), at a White House briefing on April 4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented recent findings, which included:
- Zika officially causes microcephally, which was previously only linked to the birth defect, and is now being associated with premature birth and neurological issues. This is transmitted to the fetus if a mother is bit by a mosquito carrying the virus.
- Exposure risk has been extended past the first trimester to the whole pregnancy.
- Mosquitos potentially carrying the virus have been found in North San Francisco and New York, which means the Zika virus is more widespread than originally thought.
- There is still no vaccine, but researchers have narrowed 62 possible treatments down to 15, which will continue to be evaluated.
Zika and Healthcare Teams
The CDC has provided materials to healthcare teams to help identify Zika cases sooner. For instance, it established the US Zika Pregnancy Registry in collaboration with “state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to collect information about Zika virus infection during pregnancy and congenital Zika virus infection,” it states on its website. This reporting system is intended to help improve care to pregnant women affected byt he Zika virus, but also to compile data to learn more about the Zika virus and its affects on pregnancies.
It also has diagnostic testing information available on its website. As of April 6, 2016, There have been:
- 346 travel-associated Zika virus disease cases reported
- 0 locally acquired vector-borne cases reported