The species of mosquito that carries Zika probably will begin to emerge in the continental U.S.in April or May, according to Reuters.
Zika virus is usually spread by mosquitoes but doctors have also identified cases in which transmission has occurred through sexual intercourse.
A team of researchers led by a Florida State University scientist announced on Friday that they may have found “an entry point” for establishing a causal link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and an underdeveloped brain.
“The risk is really probably much higher, as reported in this paper, than what any of us would’ve predicted”, Schleiss said.
Laboratory tests found that the virus targeted key cells involved in brain development and then destroyed or disabled them, they said. Infected cells were then more likely to die and less likely to divide normally.
The study so far is tracking 88 otherwise healthy pregnant women who sought care for Zika-like symptoms at a clinic run by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janiero between September and last month. Another was born at 40 weeks in distress and with little amniotic fluid, said senior author Karin Nielsen Saines, a pediatrician at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Zika seems to be a problem when there is an infection in women in any trimester of pregnancy”, she said. “This will be a big burden on the country”, she said.
As of Tuesday, the CDC reported there have been 153 cases of Zika virus infection in 28 states (not including Missouri) and the District of Columbia linked to travel in areas where Zika is being spread.
The results “make a very strong case for Zika virus being the cause of all these pregnancy outcomes that are not very good”, Nielsen-Saines says. It’s based on the observation that the number of cases of microcephaly appear to have increased in Brazil after the virus became epidemic in that country. A large prospective study involving roughly 5,000 pregnant women, mostly in Colombia, is still underway, however, and final results probably won’t be available until June, according to WHO.