The Zika virus has been confirmed in more than 20 countries in South and Central America, including cases in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday described to the media the measures being taken to understand and treat the widening reach of the Zika virus before it likely spreads to mosquitoes in the continental United States.
Important takeaways from the media briefing:
• An outbreak in the continental U.S. is likely to happen at some point but should be limited in nature. The type of mosquitoes carrying the virus can be found in parts of the United States, mostly in the South. The same kind of mosquito has caused limited U.S. outbreaks of Dengue and chikungunya virus, but no widespread outbreaks or epidemics in the continental United States as a result, according to officials at the briefing.
• The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working with the CDC on the development of diagnostic platforms that can rapidly determine if a patient is infected with the Zika virus or has been in the past. The NIAID is pursuing at least two approaches to develop a Zika vaccine.
• Thirty-one cases of the Zika virus have been detected in 11 states so far this year. There have been no cases of local transmission in the continental United States. All cases have been from people who have traveled to a country where mosquitoes are carrying the Zika virus.
• There is no confirmed link between the 3,800 cases of microcephaly reported by Brazilian health authorities in the past year and the Zika outbreak, although lab tests at the CDC ‘strongly suggest’ a link between Zika infection and these pregnancy outcomes.
• Health authorities in Brazil have seen an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome. This rare neurological disorder is thought to be a complication associated with the Zika virus.
H&HN's complete coverage of the Zika threat can be found here.