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CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden Tweets Damning Indictment Of Zika Virus Research

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  Dr. Tom Frieden of CDC

WASHINGTON – Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tweeted a damning picture of Zika virus research blaming “50 years of neglect” on the current crisis facing the whole world.

Testifying before politicians in Washington, Dr. Frieden warned that a vaccine could be “years away” while a World Health Organization (WHO) official has confirmed that broad trials are expected to be at least 18 months away at the earliest.

Zika has gained public prominance after an outbreak in South America has started to spiral out of control. While it symptoms are mild for most, the virus can have a devastating impact on pregnant women and their unborn children.

One of the major side-effects of contracting the virus while pregnant is that it will be passed onto the baby causing a very particular symptom known as Microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and neurological abnormalities.

There are believed to be over 4,000 cases of this condition in newborn children, a drastic increase in numbers prompting the WHO to declare Zika to be a global emergency.

Countries have started issuing warnings to travellers and tourists while South American countries have begun a massive campaign to both rid the worst hit areas of the mosquitos that can transmit it and also to educate the population after it was discovered that the virus can be transmitted through sexual activity.

There is currently no known vaccine for the virus, instead countries can only implement preventative measures to try and stem the spread of the infection.

Outside of South America there have been a handful of confirmed cases of Zika in the United States and in Ireland.

Zachary Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human services, said in a statement: “Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others.

“Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually transmitted infections.”

A warning from the Foreign Office, recommends women who are pregnant, or who are planning on becoming pregnant, to avoid travelling to countries where outbreaks have been confirmed.

The full list of countries is as follows: Barbados, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, St. Croix, and Paraguay.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 01: João Heitor baby born with microcephaly is held by his mother Gabrielly Santana da Paz as they wait to see a doctor at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital on February 1, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. Health officials believe as many as 100,000 people have been exposed to the Zika virus in Recife, although most never develop symptoms. In the last four months, authorities have recorded around 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. (Photo by Diego Herculano/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL – FEBRUARY 01: João Heitor baby born with microcephaly is held by his mother Gabrielly Santana da Paz as they wait to see a doctor at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital on February 1, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. Health officials believe as many as 100,000 people have been exposed to the Zika virus in Recife, although most never develop symptoms. In the last four months, authorities have recorded around 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. (Photo by Diego Herculano/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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