CDC: Zika virus ‘scarier than we initially thought’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Senators baseball fans know to keep their mouth shut on muggy nights because of swarming mayflies, but it’s the bugs that bite that have federal officials buzzing.

“Everything we look at seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schuchat said scientists and health officials are learning starting new information about the virus, mainly its effects on adults. Zika has infected brains and nervous systems in healthy adults.

Currently, there are 350 confirmed cases of Zika in the United States. Officials believe the number could climb this summer as people travel and mosquitoes are more prevalent. New maps released by the CDC show the threat of spreading could creep deep into Pennsylvania.

Health officials warn people living near waterways and areas prone to mosquitoes are particularly at risk, as well as those traveling out of the country to South American, Caribbean, and Latin American countries.

Lauren Beaston said she strolls along the Susquehanna River any chance she gets.

“It’s just nice to get out of the office and not have to be inside for an hour out of my day,” she said.

Yet, despite the new warning from health officials, Beaston said she would not shy away from Mother Nature.

“Unless it gets to the point where they’re not letting people physically being in the creeks or the river or anything like that, no,” she said.

Some microbiologists have reported the Zika virus could be more widespread than Ebola. U.S. health officials are urging people not to panic, but be prepared.

ABC’s Health Director, Dr. Richard Besser, said pregnant women should take extra precautions.

“There’s no period during your pregnancy when it’s absolutely safe,” he said. “There won’t be a vaccine this year.”

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