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Gearing up

U.S. “likely” to see local outbreaks of Zika virus

By WITW Staff on April 19, 2016

Local outbreaks of the Zika virus are likely to occur in the United States, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The virus, which is transmitted through mosquito bites and sexual contact, has been spreading through the Americas and has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly. Some 350 cases of Zika have been reported in the United States, but in each instance, the virus was contracted abroad. During an interview with Fox News Sunday, Fauci said that he expected to see Americans contract the virus locally, but did not anticipate that the outbreak would be widespread. “It would not be surprising at all — if not likely — that we’re going to see a bit of [a local outbreak],” he said. “We’re talking about scores of cases, dozens of cases, at most.”

In addition to causing microcephaly in fetuses, Zika has been linked to the neurological Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults. Fauci noted that other neurological diseases may eventually be linked to Zika, and championed the administration’s efforts to raise $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus. “We have to act now,” he said. “I can’t wait to start developing a vaccine.”

Read the full story at Reuters.