Update: Our Response to Zika
As of September 28, 2016, there have been more than 3,600 cases of Zika virus infection, including 808 pregnant women with evidence of Zika virus infection, and 21 babies born with birth defects in the United States.
To date, Texas has reported 204 cases of Zika virus infection, making up six percent of the country’s cases. At this time, all Texas cases have been related travel in active Zika-transmission areas. There have been no reported cases of transmission by mosquitoes in Texas; however Texas is on alert for the possibility of local transmission.
Zika poses a serious threat to unborn children, which is why I have repeatedly called for an adequate response to the virus. Texas Department of State Health Services has been emphasizing precautions, specifically for travelers and pregnant women, through an ongoing public education campaign and via www.TexasZika.org.
The Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution contains $1.1 billion for federal agencies to respond to the Zika virus in the continental United States, in U.S. territories, and in other nations. When combined with funds already reprogrammed by the Administration for Zika response activities, the total available resources to respond to the Zika virus are $1.7 billion. These funds include:
- $394 million to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to support mosquito eradication, surveillance, laboratory testing, education & outreach, as well as to reimburse state and local public health departments.
- $397 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
- $175.1 million to State Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) for support response efforts related to the Zika virus and related health conditions, and other vector-borne diseases.
- $141 million to support health care services – including contraceptive services and maternal and child health services – to prevent the spread of Zika. (Of this amount, at least $126 million is reserved for Puerto Rico and the territories.)
- $145.5 million to support international health care services, including vector control activities and technologies, vaccines, diagnostics, and building up health care infrastructure.
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. To prevent mosquito bites, the CDC recommends using insect repellent, screen windows and doors, and air conditioning when available. Because mosquitoes lay eggs near water, you should empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as buckets, planters, birdbaths, or trash containers, etc. weekly. Be sure to check inside and outside your home.