Monday, April 11, 2016

Health Officials: Zika Is Scarier Than We Thought
April 11, 2016 10:02 PM
By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Scarier than initially thought! Concerns are growing over the rapidly-spreading Zika virus. There are already six cases here in Maryland and top health experts say the mosquito that carries the virus has been found in 30 states—including Maryland!

Ava-joye Burnett has the warning from health officials.

Health officials are warning that the Zika virus is more widespread and poses a bigger threat than initially thought. They also say without funding, the US won’t be prepared to respond.

It’s news about the Zika virus no one wants to hear.

“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said one official.

The virus is running rampant in South America and is connected to devastating birth defects where babies are born with small heads and brains. Now we’re learning Zika is linked to even more devastating health problems, like miscarriages, premature births and blindness in babies.

There are also reports of adults having neurological problems.

“I’m not an alarmist and most of you who know me know that I am not but the more we learn about the neurological aspects, the more we look around and say this is very dangerous,” said Anthony Fauci, NIH.

There are at least 346 travel-related Zika cases here in the US. Right now, folks at the NIH are scrambling to ensure that it doesn’t spread even more.

The mosquito that carries the virus has been found in 30 states, including Maryland.

“So far, this is the first type of mosquito-borne virus that can actually cause birth defects,” said Dr. John Cmar, Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

The CDC doesn’t think there will be widespread transmission of the virus but local hospitals are still preparing—just in case.

“Are we screening the patients correctly in terms of where they have traveled and the types of symptoms they’ve had to make sure we are not missing anything,” an official said.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to help fight Zika but the funding has not been approved yet. Top health officials used this latest news to put pressure on Congress to approve the funds.

Ava-joye Burnett

Ava-joye Burnett joined WJZ Eyewitness News in January of 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Prior to joining WJZ, Ava-joye worked at WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va. as a reporter and anchor. Ava-joye started her reporting career in Hagerstown, Md....

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