The Center for Disease control has released an updated list of all known cases of Zika infections among pregnant women within the United States. Prior to Friday, the CDC only reported women who exhibited symptoms associated with the virus, but as new studies have revealed that you do not have to actively exhibit symptoms for birth defects to occur, the CDC has updated their lists. The new number stands at 157 women infected within the continental United States, and another 120 women infected in other US territories. The CDC says they will continue to offer updated lists every week.
In a positive note, for the time being, none of the infections were obtained locally within the United States. Meaning that these women all contracted the disease on travels to other countries and brought the virus back to the USA with them. The study also finds that of the 157 cases to date, only 11 cases of microcephaly and brain abnormalities have occurred. Though the CDC also admits not all the women have given birth and “we don’t have full information yet on all of the outcomes” – Margaret Honein, chief of the CDC’s birth defects branch.
In one of the most interesting pieces of information, according to the statistics, only 49% of women who test positive for Zika actually experience physical systems. This means that more then half of all women may never realize they have contracted the disease without a test. According to Mrs. Honein, this is exactly why the CDC decided to release the new data. She stated Friday that “as the data accumulated about the risk of asymptomatic infections, it seemed more and more important to be very transparent and share publicly the numbers, the full number of pregnant women at risk of adverse outcomes associated with Zika.”
The CDC is encouraging any women who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, who live in high risk areas throughout the United States, has recently traveled to Latin/Central America, or has engaged in sexual behavior with people from these regions, to get tested for the virus. If you were unaware before, Zika is transmitted sexually.
Members of the US government, led by Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Elizabeth Warren on Massachusetts, are actively attempting to push the Senate to approve a $1.9 billion dollar budget to go towards the development of a vaccine, Zika prevention, awareness and education. Earlier last week, the US Senate approved $1.1 billion dollars in emergency funding to go towards this mission and a few months back the US government transferred another $626 million from the Ebola fund to go towards Zika solutions.
Though the $1.1 billion dollars falls short of the $1.9 request from the White House, several members of Congress are hopeful “they can close the gap“. As President Obama said, these are real world issues, “you cant stop the mosquitoes by building a wall.” Testifying on Capitol Hill Friday, Elizabeth Warren said “mosquitoes don’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat, they don’t care who they target.” End the gridlock and approve funding before it becomes too late urged Senator Rubio, “approving $1.9 billion dollars to combat Zika is not the reason our government is in debt. We have the money to do this. If we don’t spend it all, add a clause that refunds money back to the treasury.”
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