Zika in Florida, new warnings, and progress on a vaccine

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The virus remains most threatening to pregnant women

Florida is dealing with the first homegrown outbreak of Zika virus disease in the United States. As this article went to press, the state had recorded 56 people who contracted Zika locally. Since many people with Zika virus disease don’t experience symptoms, it’s likely that there are unreported cases. It’s also certain that the virus will spread to others.

So far, most of the cases have been isolated to specific areas in Florida, including the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami and a section of Miami Beach.

Officials are most concerned about pregnant women in Florida who have tested positive for Zika virus disease—those who contracted it either locally or abroad. CDC has linked Zika virus disease to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with a shrunken head and incomplete brain development.

In September, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its stance on the length of time couples should wait to conceive if they have traveled to countries where there is active transmission of Zika virus disease. The agency now recommends a wait time of 6 months based on current knowledge and available data. Previously, WHO recommended an 8-week waiting period.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that progress on a vaccine for Zika virus disease was advancing. The agency’s biomedical research and development wing granted Moderna Therapeutics an $8.2 million grant to speed development of a vaccine, which will use messenger RNA vaccine technology.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has also received federal funding to conduct early-stage clinical trials for a potential Zika virus disease vaccine.

Visit www.pharmacytoday.org for the full article in the October 2016 issue of Pharmacy Today.

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