The impact of the Zika virus could be far more wide reaching than first thought, public health officials in the US have admitted.
Dr Anne Schuchat, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a wider range of birth defects has been linked to the virus, including premature birth and blindness, and the mosquitoes that carry the virus could travel to more US states than previously thought.
“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring,” Dr Schuchat said at a White House briefing on Monday.
“Everything we know about this virus seems to be scarier than we initially thought.”
Researchers still don’t know how many babies will end up with birth defects, or what drugs and vaccines may be effective.
“This is a very unusual virus that we can’t pretend to know everything about it that we need to know,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “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 serious.”
The current Zika outbreak began almost a year ago in Brazil and has been linked to thousands of birth defects in the Americas.