Buchanan to CDC Director: I’ll Fight For Zika Funds
CDC Will Exhaust Emergency Anti-Zika Money Soon
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today said he will push for significant funding to fight the Zika virus following a briefing from the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Buchanan and Dr. Anne Schuchat spoke for 30 minutes about actions that need to be taken in Florida to effectively combat the mosquito-borne disease as the summer heats up. Dr. Schuchat noted that most of Florida is still at risk for transmission, saying the “first infections probably happened at barbeques on the 4th of July weekend” last year.
Emergency anti-Zika funding passed by Congress last year will run out in the fall, according to the director.
Buchanan, who successfully pushed for last year’s emergency funding, said the state cannot afford a slow congressional response again this year.
“Zika is a serious threat to Florida,” Buchanan said. “Our country’s top disease fighters need the funding and resources necessary to protect the public.”
Specifically, last year’s emergency funding is being used by the CDC to track birth defects, support local mosquito control and ramp up testing so results are given more quickly and so more people can be tested.
Florida is ground zero for the Zika virus and is one of two states to have confirmed mosquito-to-human transmission of the disease. Buchanan has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus.
The Congressman’s discussion with Dr. Schuchat comes on the heels of a CDC report detailing the risk of the Zika virus to pregnant women. The report reveals that about 5 percent of women in U.S. territories who had a confirmed Zika virus infection during their pregnancy had a baby with Zika-related birth defects.
Nearly 5,300 cases of Zika have been reported in the United States as of June 21, with 224 acquired from local mosquitoes and 5,024 cases in people who traveled to affected areas. Over 36,500 cases have been reported in U.S. territories, according to the CDC. Florida already has 88 reported Zika infections this year, 69 of which are travel-related, according to the state’s health department.
The CDC is the federal agency that provides on-the-ground assistance to local authorities in fighting the disease. It is also on the front lines for testing and helping pregnant women and others who may be infected with the virus.