CDC Docs Raise Concerns About Zika-Associated Epilepsy

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To try to avoid mosquito bites, scientists and public health professionals urge people to stay indoors or wear long-sleeve shirts and trousers if they're outdoors, especially during the day, when mosquitoes that might transmit the Zika virus are more likely to bite. These findings necessitate further research if Aedes albopictus can transmit Zika.

The Zika virus infects humans through mosquito bites, and its effects in pregnant women are the most damaging one. Without live Zika virus in the offspring, the presence of Zika RNA suggests that either "the female parent was not itself infected with live Zika virus or it was not able to transfer live Zika virus to her eggs", Smartt commented.

Citing recent studies that found seizures and epilepsy reported in some infants exposed to Zika while in the womb, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that cases of epilepsy caused by the virus may be misdiagnosed or under reported.

Previously, researchers had only found Zika in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, but Smartt and her team discovered that the virus was also present in newly-hatched Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. In the event if these mosquitoes test positive for Zika RNA, they need to be tested for Zika virus before they are transported to be used in research. The range of Aedes albopictus expands into the Midwest.

Bush and other public health officials say they aren't shocked by the findings.

Representatives from the Bay County Health Department said they are available to answer any questions about the virus. "Regardless of whether it's an aegypti or an albopictus, the solution is the same".

Zika virus outbreaks have been seen in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Central and South America.

As Zika transmissions accelerated over the summer, pregnant women donned long clothes and stayed indoors.

In addition, state officials have vowed a more robust response to Zika.

"I think there'll be an uptick", Bush said.

This fuels the worries that Ae. albopictus could help spread the Zika virus as mosquito season hits temperate regions worldwide. The report also provided more evidence that the risk of birth defects was greater when women were infected in the first trimester of pregnancy.