U.S. states and territories can now apply to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for funds to fight the Zika virus locally. More than $85 million in redirected funds identified by the Department of Health and Human Services is being made available to support efforts to protect U.S. residents from Zika virus infection and associated adverse health outcomes, including the serious birth defect microcephaly, the agency announced.
“These funds will allow states and territories to continue implementation of their Zika preparedness plans but are not enough to support a comprehensive Zika response and can only temporarily address what is needed,” said Stephen C. Redd, MD, director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. “Without the full amount of requested emergency supplemental funding, many activities that need to start now are being delayed or may have to be stopped within months.”
Under the latest announcement, $25 million in fiscal year 2016 preparedness and response funding will go to 53 states, cities, and territories at risk for outbreaks of Zika virus infection. The recipients will receive funds based on the geographic locations of the two mosquitoes known to transmit Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus; on the history of mosquito-borne disease outbreaks; and on the size of the population.
State, local, and territorial health officials can use the funds to identify and investigate a possible outbreak of Zika virus disease in their communities; to coordinate a comprehensive response across all levels of government and nongovernmental partners (including the health care sector); and to identify and connect to community services families affected by Zika virus disease.
Applications for the funds are due to the CDC by June 13, 2016. Funds will be disbursed during the summer and will remain available through July 2017.
Earlier this year, states and cities currently participating in the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program became eligible for more than $60 million to build laboratory capacity; to enhance epidemiologic surveillance and investigation; to improve mosquito control and monitoring; to keep blood supplies safe; and to contribute data to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy registry.
Zika virus infection is spread to people primarily through the bite of infected A. aegypti and A. albopictus mosquitoes, although A. aegypti are more likely to spread Zika. Sexual transmission also has been documented. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection. The most common symptoms of infection include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. In previous outbreaks, the illness has typically been mild, with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika virus infection in pregnant women is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Zika also has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which a person’s immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.
Source: CDC; May 13, 2016.