According to health officials, the Zika virus is “scarier” than first thought. It’s impact on the the US could be greater than previously predicated, officials admitted.
It was previously thought that Zika was only linked to Microcephaly, but studies suggest that a wider range of birth defects are linked to the virus, Dr Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
In addition, the mosquitos that carry Zika are predicted to travel to more US states than previously thought.
The current outbreak of Zika began in Brazil almost a year ago and has been linked to a variety of birth defects.
“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring,” said Dr Schuchat at a White House briefing on Monday.
“Everything we know about this virus seems to be scarier than we initially thought.”
In the United States there have been 346 confirmed cases of Zika, and all have been associated with traveling to infected countries.
President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress for $1.9 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus. The US is currently using money left over from Ebola to combat the outbreak. The money is being used to not only research better vaccines for the virus, but also to lower the mosquito population.
“When the president asked for $1.9 billion, we needed $1.9 billion.” officials said. Trials of the vaccines are likely to start in September 2016.
“The very, very best scenario” would be a vaccine ready for the general public by the beginning of 2018, officials told the BBC World Service.
There had also been recent studies showing how destructive Zika appeared to be to foetal brains as well as rare neurological problems in adults.