The Zika virus is looking to be more complex – and more dangerous – the more health authorities learn about it.
At a White House press briefing on Monday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, explained the Center’s latest research into the widespread disease.
“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring. Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said Schuchat.
There are 346 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental United States – 32 are in pregnant women and seven were sexually transmitted. All are present in people who had traveled to Zika-prone areas, reports USA Today.
“While we absolutely hope we don’t see widespread local transmission in the continental U.S., we need… to be ready for that,” said Schuchat at the briefing.
The virus, which is linked to the microcephaly birth defect, can actually lead to a number of different conditions in babies, including premature birth and blindness.
Officials also announced that the mosquito carrier, the Aedes aegypti, is now present in a larger geographic region of the United States.
“Instead of about 12 states, where the mosquito is present, we believe about 30 states have the mosquito present,” explained Schuchat.
The CDC suspects that Zika is rapidly spreading in Puerto Rico, where there are hundreds of thousands of suspected cases – affecting countless babies.
On Wednesday, the CDC announced it is giving $3.9 million worth of emergency funding to the United States territory.
“This information is, of course, of concern,” said Schuchat.