More local Zika cases likely in US, says top NIH official

With the continental U.S. experiencing its first locally transmitted Zika infections in Florida, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, has stated there are more locally acquired cases to come, though the situation on America's mainland will not be as dire as elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, according to CBS News.

"We definitely don't take this lightly; this is something we always anticipated and prepared for the worst," Dr. Fauci told CBS News. "But we do not feel this is going to turn into that broadly disseminated situation that we've seen in Brazil or that we're seeing in Puerto Rico."

Still, Dr. Fauci described the likelihood of the occurrence of more homegrown Zika cases in the U.S. as near certainty. Dr. Fauci added that health officials are working to reduce the number of infected mosquitoes in affected areas.

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As for the progress toward a potential Zika vaccine, Dr. Fauci said, "We're making very good progress; it's really on a very fast track. I would say that we will very likely in the next couple of weeks go into the Phase 1 trial in one of the several candidates that are being considered." This would put the potential vaccine on track for broader trials in early 2017.

However, progress on mosquito control and vaccine development will likely stall unless Congress approves additional funding for the NIH and other federal health organizations.

"We're going to rapidly run out of money if we don't get it real soon because we're stretching it, borrowing money from other places to try and do those kinds of things," Dr. Fauci said. "We're getting to that critical point very quickly."

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Zika update: 13 babies born in US with Zika-related birth defects; more than 1,600 cases 
FDA halts blood collection in 2 Fla. counties over Zika fears 
CDC to provide $67 million to health departments for fight against antibiotic resistance

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