Monday, May 02, 2016 Zika in the News: Damage 'Worse Than Predicted,' Common US Mosquito Capable of Transmission Another week, another round of media coverage of the Zika virus. And so far, there's not much good news in sight. The last week of April brought reports of the first official Zika-related death on a US territory, statements that microcephaly and other birth defects associated with the virus may be the "tip of the iceberg," and a finding that a mosquito more common to the US can carry Zika. Here's a roundup of some of the most recent reports: The Asian tiger mosquito, common in the US, can carry Zika. (The Washington Post) A laboratory in Singapore has confirmed that the Asian tiger mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus, and was the species mainly responsible for an outbreak in Gabon, in Africa. Though not the most common variety of mosquito in the US, it is widespread and particularly tough to eradicate because of its ability to raise its young in small pockets of water. One expert quoted in the story says "It's like a hurricane. We know it's coming, we don't know where it will hit, but we'll see some indigenous cases here.” The severity of Zika-related brain damage in babies is "far worse than doctors expected." (Wall Street Journal) This article from April 28 looks at the range of brain defects associated with Zika in newborns, asserting that health care providers are dealing with problems that "are far worse than past birth defects associated with microcephaly," including unformed areas of the brain, and holes in the brain that fill with fluid. The report includes a few theories about how the Zika virus "that has appeared benign since first identified 70 years ago could now pose such a grave risk," and touches on multidisciplinary efforts that include physical therapists in working with the infants who suffered damage. The first Zika death in the US happens as Congress fails to agree on funding for Zika health efforts. (Voice of America) The death of an elderly man in Puerto Rico marked the first Zika-related death on US territory, reports Voice of America. Meanwhile, the US Congress is now in recess after failing to approve a White House request for nearly $2 billion in emergency funding to battle the Zika-carrying mosquito and develop a vaccine. In the meantime, the Obama administration is moving money that was not spent on the Ebola outbreak to fight Zika. Zika virus birth defects could be just the "tip of the iceberg." (NBC News) This May 1 story quotes a representative from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies that "the microcephaly and other birth defects we have been seeing could be the tip of the iceberg." And though the article outlines the daunting challenges facing health providers and parents in Brazil and elsewhere, a few bright spots were identified: Zika infections don't seem to be occurring in children, the incidence of Zika-related Guillain-Barre syndrome seems rarer than once thought, and predictions are for rates of infection to drop in Brazil as the weather cools seasonally.