CDC: Zika virus ‘scarier than we initially thought’

CDC: Zika virus ‘scarier than we initially thought’
The Zika-carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti, no longer on a solo mission in the Western hemisphere. (Image via News Independent)

Public health officials said Monday they’ve learned a lot more about Zika since the White House asked Congress for $1.9 billion to combat the mosquito-borne virus and are increasingly concerned about its potential impact on the United States.

“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought.”

She said the virus has been linked to a broader array of birth defects throughout a longer period of pregnancy, including premature birth and blindness in addition to the smaller brain size caused by microcephaly. The potential geographic range of the mosquitoes transmitting the virus also reaches farther northward, with the Aedes aegypti species present in all or part of 30 states, not just 12. And it can be spread sexually, causing the CDC to update its guidance to couples.

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