In 2015, Brazil reported nearly 3000 cases of microcephaly, and incurable condition that causes brain damage. The amount of new cases of microcephaly was up more than 20 times the previous year. So, what is going on in Brazil?
The strongest suspect is a mosquito born disease called the Zika virus. Since the beginning of 2016 there has been a lot of talk about Zika virus and heightened concerned among pregnant women.To date this virus has spread much further than Brazil. So far there have been at least 346 cases of the virus in the continental United States, according to the CDC. According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, everything with this virus is "scarier than we initially thought". In addition to causing microcephaly the World Health Organization is linking the virus to premature birth, eye problems and other neurological conditions in babies born to mothers who were infected while pregnant.
Zika virus has spread fast, from being a phenomenon in Brazil by December 2015 to cases being found as far north as San Francisco and New York. Now there are confirmed cases of the virus being transmitted sexually, instead of only through mosquito bites. The CDC lab is still learning more about the virus and how it affects the neurological system, but they will need more funds from congress to continue their work.
"While we absolutely hope we don't see widespread local transmission in the continental U.S., we need the states to be ready for that," Schuchat said.