Health officials hope the approaching summer months will help them learn more about the Zika virus. Zika can be spread sexually and by infected mosquitoes. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) reacted to the CDC’s report that mosquitoes in Missouri could carry the virus.
“This seems to get to be a much bigger issue the further south you are right now,” said Blunt. “As the summer progresses, this will be a big issue everywhere.”
University of Missouri Family and Community Medicine Professor Sarah Swofford thinks mosquitoes in the continental U.S. carrying the virus is a theoretical concern, but that could change.
“It’s been mentioned by the CDC that they’re just not quite sure what’s going to happen this summer as viruses mutate and mosquitoes become more active,” said Swofford.
One of the major health concerns is that some mothers who had Zika while pregnant have also given birth to babies with serious brain birth defects. Swofford also says seizures and women giving birth prematurely have been reported.
Blunt says health officials are working on a vaccine.
“The belief is by the end of 2017 there will be a vaccine that will be very close at that point to being publicly available,” said Blunt.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that once you get the virus, you can’t get it again.
More than 700 cases of the virus have been reported thus far, with most of those being related to travel to countries where there’s active transmission of Zika. The CDC says prior to 2015, the virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries and territories.