Zika Virus | Texas Public Radio

Zika Virus

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it no longer considers the Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern.

But Zika's threat to pregnant women and babies is not going away anytime soon, the agency says. Instead, the virus is now a chronic problem, says the WHO's Dr. Pete Salama.

Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

The World Health Organization announced it no longer considers the Zika virus a global emergency.

But that doesn’t mean the threat of the mosquito-borne virus is gone.

Federal scientists have launched another test in human volunteers of a Zika vaccine. This one uses a more traditional approach than an experiment that started in August.

Public health authorities and infectious disease specialists now say we may not be able to rid the U.S. of the Zika virus. Despite months of intense work — including house to house inspections and aggressive mosquito control — federal, state and local officials have not been able to stop the spread of Zika in Miami.

TPR archive

An exceptionally wet summer and extra warm temperatures this fall have created an ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed.  

Health officials say the mosquito-friendly weather has them concerned about the spread of the Zika virus. They're hoping to reach a larger set of residents in a health forum on Zika this weekend.

 

San Antonio Councilman Ron Nirenberg is hosting the forum so health officials can offer residents the latest scientific information and instructions on how to protect their families.

 

Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center, is trying hard to fight the Zika virus. It's screening pregnant women and following federal guidelines to test people at risk.

Men who may have been exposed to the Zika virus should wait at least six months before trying to conceive a child with a partner, regardless of whether they ever had any symptoms, federal health officials are recommending.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended that only men with Zika symptoms had to wait that long. Those who may have been exposed to Zika but never developed any symptoms were told to hold off on trying to conceive for just eight weeks.

Zika wasn't even on Dr. Sankar Swaminathan's mind when he first examined a severely ill 73-year-old man in a Salt Lake City hospital in June. The patient had just returned from a visit to Mexico when he suddenly fell violently ill.

"We were not thinking about Zika at all because Zika usually does not cause severe illness, in fact it almost never does," says Swaminathan, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Utah.

After nearly seven months of bickering and finger-pointing, Congress on Wednesday agreed to allocate $1.1 billion to help fight the spread and effects of the Zika virus.

The deal is part of a broader agreement to continue to fund the government after the fiscal year ends on Friday and the current budget expires.

Pages