California to get federal funds to help identify and treat babies born with microcephaly

August 04, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Patient Care Public Health Quality of Care 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it has awarded more than $16 million to 40 states and territories, including California, to establish, enhance and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly – a serious birth defect of the brain – and other adverse outcomes caused by Zika virus infection. According to the announcement, the California Department of Public Health will receive $720,000.

The funding will help states and territories ensure that infants and their families are referred to appropriate health and social services. The awards will also enable states and territories to monitor the health and developmental outcomes of children affected by Zika.

To date, 21 pregnant Californians have tested positive for Zika; all of them acquired the disease from travel to a Zika-affected area or through sexual contact with a traveler.

“It is critical to identify infants with birth defects related to Zika virus so we can support them and their families,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “This CDC funding provides real-time data about the Zika epidemic as it unfolds in the United States and territories and will help those most devastated by this virus.”

Zika is mainly transmitted by the aedes mosquito. While this mosquito isn’t common in the far northern parts of California, it can be found in larger numbers in Southern California and as far north as the Bay Area and Madera County. Zika can also be sexually transmitted.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, and many people infected with Zika have no symptoms. In those who do have symptoms, the most common complaints are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe defects in the developing fetus.

CDC encourages everyone, especially pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, to protect themselves from mosquito bites to avoid possible Zika virus infection.

For more information on the Zika virus in California, click here.


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