The rapid spread of the Zika virus has public health officials worried, not least because so little is known about the mosquito-borne illness. In most children and adults, the symptoms are mild, if they appear at all, but there is a speculative link to the nervous system disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome and a more solid and troubling tie to microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with small heads and shrunken brains. There is no vaccine and no treatment, but researchers in Texas and Brazil are working on a Zika vaccine. It will probably be 5-12 years before they have one ready for the public.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston tell BBC News they could have a working vaccine in a year or two, but that getting regulatory approval to use it on humans could take another eight to 10 years. Prof. Nikos Vasilakis says that 20-30 million Americans in the Southern U.S. are at risk of infection if the virus spreads north of Mexico, as expected. But there's a debate over how dangerous the virus really is.
Several countries with significant infections — El Salvador, Colombia, and Brazil — are urging women to put off having children, given the risk of bearing children with microcephaly. But the spike in microcephaly cases in Brazil doesn't seem to be as big as originally thought, and the World Health Organization stresses that a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly is circumstantial and unproven. In 2014, Brazil had 150 reported cases of microcephaly a year (versus some 2,500 cases of microcephaly a year in the U.S.), so the 4,180 suspected cases reported since October shocked the country. But on Wednesday, Brazilian health officials said that of the 732 cases they examined more closely, 270 were confirmed to be microcephaly and 462 cases were actually something else.
Still, "I don't think we should lower our alarm over the Zika outbreak," Paul Roepe, co-director of Georgetown University's Center for Infectious Disease, tells The Associated Press. And two public health experts, Dr. Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin, warned in the Journal of the American Medical Association that if the WHO doesn't act, it risks a repeat of the Ebola disaster in Africa. See more about Zika in the BBC News explainer video below. Peter Weber
Uber is no longer just a form of ground transportation — at least, if you live in China. The company announced at TechCrunch Shanghai over the weekend that it's expanding its services to the air and the water, with the upcoming launch of UberBalloon and UberBoat.
Yes, you can now request a hot air balloon ride — or boat ride — with a swipe on your smartphone. But before you get too excited about the thought of hailing a hot air balloon to the bars on Saturday night, keep in mind that these new rides are currently only available in China.
No word yet on whether rates for hot air balloon rides can surge. Becca Stanek
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is already jumping to action on her pledge to ensure the country's membership in the European Union, despite Britain's vote to leave the organization. Sturgeon is set to meet with European Parliament chiefs in Brussels on Wednesday to negotiate Scotland's place in the 28-member bloc by presenting the country's "positions and interests," Reuters reports. "Our early priority has been to ensure that there is a widespread awareness across Europe of Scotland's different choice in the referendum and of our aspiration to stay in the EU," Sturgeon has told the Scottish parliament.
Although Britain elected to exit the EU, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain, 62 percent to 38 percent. Sturgeon has already said that she is open to the possibility of Scotland exiting the United Kingdom, if that becomes necessary to ensure the country's standing in the EU.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost his no-confidence vote Tuesday, with 172 votes against him, 40 in support, and four abstentions. Shortly after the vote, the Labour Party released a statement accepting the motion that it "has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Leader," adding to pressure for Corbyn to step down after last week's Brexit vote. Corbyn's detractors argue that he didn't do enough to support the party's stance on the Brexit and sway Brits against voting to exit the European Union.
While Tuesday's vote is "nonbinding," The Washington Post reports that it's "likely to lead to a new leadership contest that could deepen divisions within a party already riven with fractures between its moderates and hard-left factions." BBC reports that there already "names in the frame" for Corbyn's potential challengers, including Tom Watson and Angela Eagle.
Corbyn, however, has already vowed that he will not resign. "I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning," Corbyn said in a statement after the vote Tuesday. "Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists, and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country." Becca Stanek
NCAA basketball coach Pat Summitt didn't just lead her players to success on the court — she drove them to success in the classroom, too. The legendary basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, who died Tuesday at the age of 64, boasted a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who finished out their NCAA eligibility at Tennessee, the school reports. Throughout Summitt's 38-year career, she coached 161 Lady Vols players.
To put that achievement into perspective, the average annual graduation rate in women's basketball in 2015 was 89 percent. For men, the average last year was 77 percent, which, ESPN reports, was an "all-time high."
Summitt retired in 2012, after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. She holds the winningest record in Division I college basketball, leading the Lady Vols to eight national championships and never posting a losing record in 38 seasons as a coach. Becca Stanek
Final House GOP Benghazi report concludes Hillary Clinton, Obama administration failed on multiple levels
One day after House Democrats released a report calling the Benghazi investigation a "partisan sham," Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee released a final report of their own with a very different conclusion. The report, made public Tuesday, cites failures by the Obama administration, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to protect the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya ahead of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. The report also reveals the CIA overlooked the threat in Libya despite multiple warnings, and that the Defense Department failed to deploy military assets in a timely manner.
While detractors widely paint the Benghazi investigation as a partisan attack on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner is not the central focus of the report, though she is mentioned specifically in the document's final section. There, Clinton is criticized for using a private email account and the Obama administration is accused of attempting to block the investigation into the incident. "What may appear at first blush to be a lack of competence on behalf of the State Department now appears fully intentional and coordinated," the report says, according to a copy obtained by Politico. "Delaying the production of documents sought by letter, informal request, or subpoena has decided political advantages for those opposing the investigation." Becca Stanek
Hey, Remainers: Feeling abandoned post-Brexit vote? Sure, 52 percent of your fellow Britons may have voted to leave the European Union — and for you Englanders, more desertion may be in your future — but fret not. If you're in need of a good cuddle to ease your EU-loving heart, two Remain-supporting voters want to help you out via their new dating app, Remainder.
Remainder is touted as "the dating and social app for the 48 percent" — as in, the 48 percent of voters who supported staying in the EU — and its creators came up with the idea to cheer up their EU-allied friends. "All the Remain voters we know seemed so depressed," the Remainder team told Metro. "We thought the best way of recovering must be to go out for a few drinks with someone who's in the same boat."
Per the app's official website, Remainder is "a labor of love by two heartbroken Remain voters." The creators are seeking roughly $6,700 in donations via their Crowdfunder page — but hey, isn't that a small price to pay for true, EU-faithful love? Kimberly Alters
The world's top golfer, Jason Day, announced Tuesday that he will not be playing in the upcoming Rio Olympic Games because of concerns about the Zika virus. The Australian golfer said in a statement released Tuesday that while the Olympics has long been a dream of his, family comes first:
— Jason Day (@JDayGolf) June 28, 2016
Day is the fifth golfer to back out of the Games because of concerns about the mosquito-borne illness, which has been linked to birth defects. In the past week, Day's fellow Australian and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy announced he also won't be competing in Rio because of the Zika virus. Becca Stanek