The American public is still a bit confused about the Zika virus, but scientists have assured citizens that we’re not on the verge of entering a pandemic. That doesn’t mean, of course, that researchers haven’t discovered manyfrightening effects the virus produces, and these latest revelations from Italy aren’t soothing anyone’s nerves. According to NBC News, researchers discovered a 32-year-old volunteer nurse contracted the virus while stationed in the Dominican Republic. Several days after visiting a clinic for standard Zika symptoms — rash and headache — she was hospitalized for neurological symptoms including memory damage.
The nurse told doctors she did not have sex during her time in the Dominican Republican, but scientists found Zika’s genetic material in her blood, urine, and saliva. To make matters worse, representatives from the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome didn’t paint a positive picture of her neurological symptoms:
“Complete neuropsychologic examinations (on days nine and 10) showed mild deficits in attention and mental processing speed and mental flexibility and moderate deficits in verbal and nonverbal memory tasks. In our case, the patient reported early neurologic symptoms and moderate memory impairment in neuropsychologic examinations, all features consistent with the diagnosis of Zika virus-related encephalitis.”
This latest development adds another confusing chapter to the Zika tale. Not only don’t we know what’s causing the newly discovered symptoms, but previous notions of how the virus spreads are being thrown out the window.
Government officials are seemingly dragging their feet on the issue, as a recent Zika research funding bill failed to pass in the Senate. President Obamahas laid down the hammer by organizing a meeting between members of the executive and legislative branches — the first of this type since February — to make sure a government shutdown doesn’t affect Zika resources. Obama also said he hopes “by the time Congress adjourns, before the election, that we will have an agreement in place to fund the government and that Zika funding will be taken care of.”