State health officials across the southern U.S. are working to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease, after health officials have raised concern about higher risk in warming weather.
Currently there are 367 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. The vast majority were contracted through travel to areas where the virus is actively spreading, outside the U.S. A small number of the cases were spread through sexual transmission.
The effects of the Zika virus are worse than health officials previously thought, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Intitutes of Health (NIH) said in a joint announcement at the White House yesterday.
“We continue to be learning pretty much every day and most of what we’re learning is not reassuring,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, said. The virus is, “linked to a broader set of complications in pregnancy.”
In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the CDC confirms the virus is spreading directly from infected mosquitoes to people. Schuchat said they estimate hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico could become infected with the Zika virus. In turn, that could mean hundreds of babies may be born with birth defects.