The forgotten virus

Covid turned research funding and focus away from this:

It’s still out there.

When Zika failed to cause much damage in the United States, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, scaled back their funding for work related to the disease. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in early 2019, made deep cuts to scientific research.

This phenomenon is not uncommon when a public health threat recedes. “All the mysteries of 2016, we still have them,” said Dr. Maria Elisabeth Lopes Moreira, a neonatologist who leads a project following children born with congenital Zika syndrome at a research institute for maternal and child health in Rio de Janeiro.

Between 7 percent and 14 percent of babies born to mothers who caught Zika while pregnant have congenital Zika syndrome

Now, he said, transmission of the virus is not being detected there or in other communities that bore the brunt of the epidemic seven years ago because so many people were infected that immunity will likely last for many years. But there are other areas of Brazil and Latin America where the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary transmitter of the Zika virus, lives and where most of the population has never been exposed to Zika.