The link between the Zika virus and microcephaly in babies was confirmed last week by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest in a series of increasingly troubling revelations about the mosquito-borne disease.

First, it’s not just mosquito-borne; it can also be passed among humans via sexual contact. That’s alarming because an outbreak can really get rolling when a pathogen can spread without the help of animals or insects. Since symptoms are so mild, if present at all, many carriers of the virus may pass it along without realizing they were infected.

It is a factor in premature birth, blindness and other defects in babies when their mothers are infected during pregnancy. And the mosquito responsible for most of the spread of the infection ranges more widely in the U.S. than thought just weeks ago: 30 states rather than just 12. As the CDC’s Anne Schuchat put it last week: “This virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought.”

Yes, it certainly is. More federal funding is crucial to vaccine development and other programs to stop the virus’ spread.

The new information about Zika should weigh heavily on Congress when it decides whether to allocate $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Lawmakers balked when President Obama first asked for the money in February. But that was before we understood just how insidious this seemingly mild-mannered flavivirus can be.

Editorial by the Los Angeles Times

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.