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As Temperatures Warm Up In North America, Zika Threat Looms


Officials this week continued to shed light on more startling details about the Zika virus. The Washington Post reported that now the virus can cause serious neurological issues in adults including Guillain-Barré syndrome and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Officials previously stated the mosquitoes that carry the virus could be found in 12 states. According to The Chicago Tribune, that number has more than doubled and mosquitoes that can carry and transmit the infamous Zika virus have been found in 30 states.

The Aedes species of mosquito was thought to be the only insect vector for the disease, but now another species of mosquito has been identified – the Culex mosquito. The Culex mosquito is the most common type of mosquito found in the United States and is best known for carrying the West Nile virus and avian malaria. At a press conference in Washington, D.C. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated “Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring…Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought.” She also said that Zika is associated with a broader set of problems for children who contract the virus from their mother. Some of the problems, in addition to microcephaly, include vision problems and premature birth.

NIAID expects to have the first human candidate for the vaccine trials by September 2016.

Schuchat expressed concern for Puerto Rico, stating that the virus had spread to hundreds of thousands of people on the island and also said that hundreds of babies might already be affected by the virus. Anothy Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that vaccine studies are underway. NIAID expects to have the first human candidate for the vaccine trials by September 2016.

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