ABC NEWS — Federal health officials today said they believe thousands of people may have contracted the Zika virus before returning to the U.S. and they remain concerned that the virus might commence ongoing transmission in the U.S.
Speaking at a panel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the Zika virus remains “pretty concerning” for experts as they learn how it affects pregnant women.
“The reality is one bite, and if you’re pregnant, your baby might be harmed,” Schuchat said at the panel today. “That’s a phenomenal problem.”
Common symptoms of Zika infection include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC. Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika infection that require hospitalization are rare, according to the CDC.
The virus has been linked to the serious birth defect microcephaly, which is characterized by a malformed or smaller head and brain and can result in serious developmental delays.
At today’s panel, government health officials said they are concerned about local transmission of Zika if travelers spread the virus to mosquitoes in the U.S., which can then infect other people who have not traveled to countries with Zika epidemics.