Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now saying that the Zika virus could be serious and that they are worried about the impact.
Zike “seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While it’s not a new virus, there’s not much known about Zika and scientists are uncovering more about it every day.
The newest information is that the mosquito known to carry the virus, Aedes, isn’t found in just 12 southern states.
It’s now linked to 30, including parts of the northeast.
Missouri is one of those states that has this mosquito.
While there are no local cases reported and officials don’t forsee a widespread epidemic, doctors aren’t ruling anything out.
“There’s just that potential that we do have potential for these mosquitoes,” said Dr. Christelle Ilboudo, a pediatric doctor of infectious disease in Columbia. “As we gear up for the summer months it could become a problem.”
According to Ilboudo, these mosquitoes have certain characteristics that people need to know in order to protect themselves.
First, these mosquitoes are day biters, which means people should be as careful during the day as they are at night in avoiding mosquitoes.
They also don’t need to be around large amounts of water.
“These mosquitoes are particularly good at breeding in low water environments. Tires is an example that they’ve given or places that have more trash,” she said. “They don’t need to have a big pool or body of water, they can just use very minimal water.”
Based on new research from the CDC, the virus is not only linked to birth defects like mircosepholy, but also to an autoimmune disorder similar to multiple sclerosis, which causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord.
Ilboudo said pregnant women should not be traveling to the affected areas but for everyone else, there is a heightened awareness that they could get the disease through sexual contact or a mosquito bite.
She said doctors should start familiarizing themselves with the virus and its symptoms.
“Be aware of what the symptoms are so if they do have a patient that has traveled to endemic area they’ll know what symptoms to look for,” she said. “In pregnant ladies, really know when to screen them and how to look for it.
Officials are also asking for more government funding to continue research, because if they don’t get it they might have to start using funds set aside for other medical diseases and disorders.