By Jack Craver
People are getting serious about Zika.
On Tuesday, President Obama called for expanded research into the virus, which has spread quickly across Latin America and the Caribbean in recent months, causing birth defects in thousands of Brazilian infants.
"The president emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines
and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus and steps they can take to better protect themselves from infection," the White House said in a statement shortly after Obama was briefed on the subject by experts.
Experts fear that the virus could spread to as much as 60 percent of the United States. Humid regions are most vulnerable, meaning places such as Florida, that experience warm humidity year-round, are at particular risk. But areas of the country that experience such conditions during the summer could be affected as well.
The surge in Zika cases is likely linked to generally rising global temperatures, along with the particularly warm weather brought on by El Nino. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to a number of countries south of the border. The agency has already reported that a small number of Americans who have traveled to Latin America have been infected.
The disease "will certainly come to the United States, and I think it will come fairly rapidly," Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, told USA Today. "We are likely to see potential fetal abnormalities. It's a really serious problem."
Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com