White House Plans Zika Summit

First locally transmitted infections expected by June or July

The White House and the CDC will gather state and local officials next month to urgently craft a plan to attack the mosquito responsible for spreading the Zika virus, according to an exclusive report from Reuters. Federal health officials said they expect the first locally transmitted cases of Zika virus infection in the continental U.S. by June or July.

The White House is inviting officials involved in mosquito control and public health to an April 1 summit at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters to discuss how best to track and control the spread of the virus, and how to respond when people are infected.

“We’re in a posture of knowing that time is precious and collaboration is essential,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in an interview.

The World Health Organization estimates that the Zika virus could eventually affect as many as 4 million people in the Americas. More than 100 cases have occurred in Puerto Rico, with thousands more expected this year, Schuchat said.

The species of mosquito that carries Zika probably will begin to emerge in the continental U.S. in April or May, according to Reuters.

President Obama has asked Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the virus, but several top lawmakers have balked, saying he should first draw from other health funding.

Source: Reuters; March 4, 2016.