Experts: Zika could be 'scariest virus since HIV'

The more the world learns about the Zika virus, the more frightening it seems. Indeed, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) calls Zika "possibly the scariest virus since HIV" for various reasons, including that it is mosquito-borne and "is all but proven" to cause birth defects. Also scary, according to the ACSH: There's something new discovered about it almost every day.

Aruba and Bonaire are the latest of 48 countries and territories to report local outbreaks of Zika virus. Among the latest news:

  • Brazil, French Polynesia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Suriname have reported increases in microcephaly and/or the paralyzing Guillain-Barre' syndrome (GBS) following Zika outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Puerto Rico and Martinique also have cases of GBS associated with Zika virus infection.
  • Although Zika hasn't been proven to cause microcephaly in utero, WHO says the virus should be "considered 'guilty until proven innocent,'" USA Today reported.
  • Medical experts are questioning the statistic that only one in five people infected with Zika develops symptoms, Reuters reported. The number was developed nearly 10 years ago based on a small outbreak in a sparsely populated island in Micronesia.

Meanwhile, in the United States, House Republicans said President Barack Obama's administration should use $2.7 billion in unspent funds earmarked for the Ebola outbreak rather than expecting $1.8 billion in new funding to reduce the spread of Zika, The Washington Times reported. Congress can replace Ebola funding later if needed, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Food and Drug Administration has already issued new guidelines intended to protect the nation's blood supply from Zika, including screening blood donors who have visited Zika-affected regions and donors whose sexual partners have been to infected regions.

To learn more:
- here's the ACSH article
- read the WHO Zika situation report
- see the Reuters article
- check out the USA Today article
- here's The Washington Times article

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