WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Top health officials say the more they learn about Zika, the scarier the virus appears and they still need more money to fight the mosquitoes that spread it and for research into vaccines and treatments.
While health experts don’t anticipate widespread outbreaks in the continental United States, Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “we absolutely need to be ready.”
“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” Schuchat said Monday at a White House briefing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said he’s “not an alarmist,” but cited recent discoveries about how destructive Zika appears to be to fetal brains.
Researchers fear Zika causes microcephaly, a serious birth defect in which a baby’s head is too small, as well as posing other threats to the children of pregnant women infected with it. There also are reports of rare neurologic problems in adults, too.
The Obama administration is using some leftover money from the Ebola fight to pay for Zika research but that’s just a fraction of the $1.9 billion it sought from Congress.
Fauci said the $589 million now available is a “temporary stopgap” and it’s “not enough for us to get the job done.”
Last month, the CDC posted new maps of the estimated range of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and a related cousin, on its website. Instead of just being in the southern part of the country, the maps now show the two mosquitoes reaching as far as New York City and San Francisco.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)