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CDC Warns Zika Is 'Scarier Than We Initially Thought', Deadly Virus Attacks Central Nervous Systems

Apr 12, 2016 07:23 AM EDT

In a press conference, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the Zika virus seems to be scarier than what they initially thought. This is after a Brazilian team of scientists discovered that it is possible for the Zika virus to trigger an immune attack on the central nervous system of adults.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus outbreak happened in May 2015 in Brazil and Colombia. It quickly spread to more than 13 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC's Principal Deputy Director, said via USA Today, "Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought."

It was earlier believed that newborns and pregnant women are more prone to the Zika virus. WHO said, "Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly." But today, it is feared that it can attack the central nervous systems of adults.

Recently, scientists in Brazil found out that the Zika virus can trigger a deadly attack on the central nervous system of adults. It is an autoimmune syndrome called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which affects the brain and spinal cord.

ADEM is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) as "a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin -- the protective covering of nerve fibers," directly injuring a person's central nervous system.

In the U.S., there are 346 recorded cases of Zika virus infections. This data, along with the new findings, prompted the White House to take more steps in fighting the deadly virus. The Obama administration lobbied the Congress for a "$1.9 billion funding to combat the mosquito-borne virus."

The findings were presented to the international medical community during the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, per the Washington Post.

With more funding and the international medical community working to fight the deadly Zika virus, the world is hopeful that a treatment for the deadly virus will be discovered soon.

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