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Unknowns about Zika virus continue to frustrate

Public health officials race to find answers, develop a vaccine

5:28pm, February 12, 2016

GOING VIRAL  Zika virus (shown in this false-color transmission electron micrograph) continues to spread across the Americas, and may be linked to a recent rise in birth defects in Brazil.

WASHINGTON — As worry about the Zika virus outbreak continues to ratchet up, scientists are scrambling to understand what threats the virus poses and how to stop it from spreading. But researchers are coming up with more questions than answers.

“It clearly is a cause for huge concern,” World Health Organization official Christopher Dye said February 12 in a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since May 2015, the mosquito-borne virus has steamrolled through Brazil — infecting potentially 1.3  million people — and spread to at least 25 other countries and territories in the Americas. Public health officials have linked Zika virus to several deaths and a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. And evidence is mounting that Zika is to blame for Brazil’s recent spike in babies born with undersized  heads and malformed brains (

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