(NBC News) – Medical experts meeting in Atlanta warned Tuesday that the Zika virus is very likely coming to the U.S. mainland and the nation isn’t ready.
With rising temperatures and rainy forecasts, conditions across much of the southeast are becoming perfect living and breeding conditions for the main carrier of Zika virus, the female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
The biologists and infectious disease experts gathered in Atlanta this week to address Zika concerns say funding is needed urgently. So far Congress has not approved White House requests for emergency funding for Zika research and preparedness.
“It’s not just enough to put signs in the airport,” said Emory University’s Dr. Raymond Schinazi.
Mosquito prevention efforts are usually coordinated at the county level and many poor areas do not have resources necessary to fight the Zika carrying insects.
In the long term, babies born to pregnant women affected by Zika will need to be monitored.
“We don’t know beyond microcephaly what the long-range effect on babies who might look they were born normal but might have more defects that are more subtle,” explained Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.
His agency will start human trials of a Zika vaccine in September.
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