On Monday, April 11, 2016, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) discussed their recent discoveries regarding the Zika virus at a White House press briefing, noting that there is still much to be learned.
Recent Zika Discoveries
During the press briefing, both Anne Shuchat, MD, principle deputy director of the CDC, and Anthony Fauci, MD, director of NIAID, agreed that the more researchers uncover about Zika, the scarier the virus appears to be.
Dr. Schuchat stated
that the virus is not only linked to microcephaly, but a range of other complications, such as prematurity and vision problems in infants
, to state a few.
Watch the briefing here:
Here is @CDCgov today @WhiteHouse discussing what we know about the spread of #ZikaVirus: https://t.co/e9lY5ifqdK
— WH National Security (@NSC44) April 11, 2016
She also noted that Zika causes problems not just in the first trimester, but potentially during the entire pregnancy period.
Dr. Schuchat continued by stating that the CDC is working around the clock “to protect pregnant women, [and] to support the state and local health departments.” She also noted that the CDC has discovered that the Aedes aegypti
mosquito, the vector responsible for the spread of the Zika virus, is currently believed to be present in 30 states.
Dr. Fauci, who also spoke at the briefing, stated that in control studies involving injecting monkeys with the virus, preliminary data showed that those monkeys that were pregnant exhibited viremia (the presence of viruses in the blood) for a significantly longer period than non-pregnant monkeys. These discoveries are significant since viremia was also exhibited in a Washington mother who had the virus in her blood for up to three weeks (normally a virus is only present in the blood for days).
Going further into detail about the neurological effects of Zika, Dr. Fauci stated, “In Vitro studies of getting the virus and putting it in neural stem cells, [show] that it has very strong propensity to destroy tissue, which could explain why, besides interfering with the development of the fetus, it might directly attack brain tissue even when the fetus is later on in the period of gestation.” This discovery is important in understanding how Zika can effect humans. Dr. Fauci then stated that a vaccine for the Zika virus will be available for Phase I trials this coming September.