September 30, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Infectious Diseases Public Health
Funding for public health efforts against the Zika virus was finally approved by Congress with the passage of a stopgap measure to avoid a federal government shutdown. The spending measure includes $1.1 billion to fight the virus, capping a fierce months-long debate over the money that dismayed public health experts.
The White House first requested $1.9 billion in funds to fight Zika in the spring. But Republicans initially resisted the request, before finally putting forward their own $1.1 billion Zika funding bill in July. The Republicans' bill failed to pass this summer due to a rider that would have prevented funding of Planned Parenthood.
With more than 3,358 Zika cases in the U.S. (mostly from people who acquired the virus abroad) and another 19,777 cases in U.S. territories, the money will go towards areas like vaccine research and mosquito control.
“It has been clear over the past several months that the U.S. has needed additional resources to combat the Zika virus," said Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA). The American Medical Association is pleased that Congress has taken action to provide the resources necessary to help contain the virus and limit any further impact on Americans,”
Although most people infected with Zika have no symptoms, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe defects in the developing fetus.
The Aedes mosquitoes that carry the disease are not native to California, however they have been detected in 12 California counties in recent years. To date there has been no local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus in California.
A team of experts across several disciplines at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working closely with local public health departments, vector control agencies and the medical community to ensure that California is responding aggressively and appropriately to the emerging threat of Zika virus.
As of September 23, CDPH has confirmed 302 travel-associated Zika virus infections in 29 California counties. A total of 36 infections have been confirmed in pregnant women. CDPH has also confirmed that two infants with Zika-related microcephaly have been born in California to women who had Zika virus infections during pregnancy after spending time in a country where the virus is endemic.
For more information on the Zika virus in California, click here.