The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health released a joint statement Monday, warning that mosquitos carrying the Zika virus have now reached 30 states across the U.S. Previously, the CDC believed the Aedes aegypti mosquito species known to have spread the disease were present in only 12 states.
The CDC also updated its guidelines for prevention to couples after finding the Zika virus can be transferred through sexual intercourse. "We continue to be learning pretty much everyday, and most of what we're learning is not reassuring," Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters Monday. Schuchat also indicated that the Zika virus is certainly "linked to a broader set of complications in pregnancy."
The CDC is particularly concerned for Puerto Rico, a region in which Schuchat believes hundreds of thousands of cases of the Zika virus might be found, especially with the coming mosquito season soon impacting the area. Hundreds of babies, as well as countless pregnant women, could be at risk of experiencing complications from the disease. Shuchat also stated at Monday's conference that the federal organization just recently learned that the complications can extend far beyond the first trimester.
Moving forward, Schuchat said the CDC will be preparing "Zika prevention kits" for pregnant women, as well as working closely with authorities in Puerto Rico to create community readiness, should the virus severely hit the region.
"The other thing that we've learned is that there's a resounding interest in preventing this disease and controlling it as well as we can," Schuchat continued, detailing how her organization is working with the government and leaders of over 30 states to improve communications and increase mosquito, human and birth defect surveillance ahead of mosquito season, which typically occurs during the warmer, upcoming months.