Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Administration Backs Buchanan’s Plan To Fight Zika Virus

Apr 6, 2016
Press Release
80 Zika Cases In Florida, Most in Nation

“Mosquito-Borne Virus a Growing Health Threat”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today applauded the Obama administration’s decision to use existing funds to respond to the Zika virus outbreak, mirroring legislation supported by the Florida Congressman. In February, Buchanan co-sponsored the Zika Response and Safety Act (H.R. 4446), which would allow government agencies to use Ebola funding previously appropriated by Congress to prevent further outbreaks of the Zika virus.

President Obama had previously asked Congress to approve about $1.9 billion in new federal spending to combat Zika. Today, the Obama administration announced it will use the Ebola money to fight Zika in the same manner outlined in H.R. 4446. About $600 million in funds will be used, according to the Associated Press.

“The number of Zika cases keeps growing,” Buchanan said. “The mosquito-borne virus represents a growing health threat to Florida and the country so I’m hopeful this targeted funding will help stop its spread.”

Florida has 80 confirmed cases of Zika and 312 cases of Zika have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus is linked to the development of abnormally small heads in newborns – a birth defect called microcephaly.

The CDC has declared that its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The administration’s move to help fund anti-Zika efforts is welcome,” Buchanan said. “But, we must remain vigilant in keeping our friends and neighbors safe.”

Buchanan was one of the first in Congress to back using emergency federal funding to fight the virus. Buchanan said Congress should review the matter with an eye toward quick action to expand mosquito control programs and speed development of a vaccine.

People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis, according to the World Health Organization. Zika has been linked to thousands of infants born with microcephaly, which is a rare neurological condition resulting in a smaller than normal head due to an abnormally developed brain.