Zika Virus News And Updates: Zika Virus Cloned, U.S. House Approved $622 Million Emergency Funding, Where Is Zika Headed Next?

By Alexie Summer, Parent Herald May 19, 06:12 am

For the first time, scientists cloned Zika virus, paving the way in finding a cure for the disease. More so, The U.S. House approved $622 million emergency fund to control the spread of Zika virus, lower than the $1.1 Billion the administration is asking for.

Zika Virus Cloned

The mosquito-borne virus has brought devastation in Latin America, causing an increase in cases of microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains, CNN reported.

A multidisciplinary team from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is the first in the world to engineer a clone of Zika virus strain. The findings were published in a study on Monday. This development can expedite many aspects of Zika research including finding the cure, developing a vaccine and therapy development. More so, since scientists now have an idea how the virus evolve, they could develop ways on how to counteract its spread, Science Daily News said.

"What we've created is something that is reproducible, meaning that batches of this virus can be made in large quantities," Lead author Pei-Yong Shi said.

$622.1 Million Emergency Fund

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday, approving to provide $622 million emergency fund to control the spread of the Zika virus. However, this amount is way below what President Barack Obama is requesting or the Senate legislation, reported Reuters.

In turn, the White House threatened to abolish the House Bill saying it's not enough. The Obama administration requested for $1.9 billion initially.

The Senate has already cleared the way to approve the $1.1 billion fund for Zika control and prevention. However, the House Bill that was passed is asking to offset the $622.1 million fund with other spending cuts such as the Ebola fund.

It's still unclear how long the Senate and the House of Representatives can work out their differences, given their respective bills. Aside from microcephaly, Zika virus is also thought to cause Buillain-Barre, a neurological syndrome that can cause temporary paralysis in adults.

Where is Zika Headed Next?

Now, the World Health Organization has warned that the Zika virus is expected to spread in Europe in the coming months, said The Guardian. France is most likely to have the Zika outbreak among the countries with moderate risk.

WHO Europe made the predictions, saying that the risk should not be underestimated. It is highest on the island of Madeira and Black Sea coast of Russia and Georgia. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are indigenous.


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