- Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested researchers could have proof within weeks for the suspected connection between Zika and two neurological disorders that have risen alongside it, microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome, Reuters reports.
- WHO also released guidance for pregnant women to consider avoiding travel to Zika-affected areas, aligning with the guidance of several countries including the U.S., UK and Canada.
- The guidance also addressed the risk of sexual transmission, particularly given limited research that has indicated prolonged presence of the disease in semen.
Updates from Brazil, the country hardest hit by the Zika virus, indicate a total of 4,314 suspected and confirmed cases of infants with microcephaly--up from 4,074 cases earlier this month. So far, 462 of the cases have been confirmed as microcephaly or other problems with the central nervous system.
"It seems indeed that the link with Zika (and microcephaly) is becoming more and more probable, so I think that we need a few more weeks and a few more studies to have this straight," Reuters quoted Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation. Additional evidence will come from upcoming births of babies with infected mothers.
Kieny indicated evidence is also rising for a connection to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that impacts adults and can cause paralysis. During the Geneva press conference, Kieny outlined WHO's establishment of "critical paths for coordinated action, and industry interest in providing platform technologies for the development of medical products."
In other updates, WHO indicated the U.S. and India were leading the effort to develop a vaccine but that we're at least 18 months from large-scale clinical trials.
In the U.S., the Senate is looking at Obama's request for $1.8 billion to combat Zika. According to CDC director Tom Frieden, the U.S. should focus on pregnant women and the population of Puerto Rico.