The Washington Post – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is awarding nearly $200 million in Zika funding to states and territories to continue the fight against the mosquito-borne virus as Texas reported a new local case, officials announced Thursday.
The money, approved earlier this year by Congress as part of the emergency response to Zika, is aimed at helping local communities at greatest risk. The funds will help boost laboratory capacity to perform diagnostics and testing; add resources to track pregnancies and births affected by Zika; support more effective mosquito control; and increase communication to the public and health-care providers.
Although Zika is no longer dominating headlines, the data coming out of research studies virtually every week shows an ever-increasing spectrum of the virus's devastating consequences in pregnancy. There were 4,617 cases of Zika reported in the continental United States as of Dec. 14, according to the CDC.
The awards from the CDC total $184 million. Here is the breakdown:
• $25 million to 21 jurisdictions at greatest risk of Zika infections in their communities. Officials can use the money to rapidly identify and investigate a possible outbreak. The money can also be used to buy insect repellent and screens. Florida, Hawaii and Texas are among the states receiving the largest amounts. Puerto Rico, the hardest hit area in the United States, is receiving $5 million.
Even though Florida recently declared there was no longer any active local spread of Zika in the Miami area, the state health department continues to report individual cases that are being transmitted locally, including one on Wednesday.
Last week, the CDC issued travel guidance for the Texas border city of Brownsville because health officials had identified four additional Zika cases that were spread locally. On Thursday, Texas authorities said they have identified another Brownsville resident with locally acquired Zika virus. It's the sixth local case in Cameron County.
Texas officials said the case does not appear to be connected to the other ones. Local public health workers are testing members in the patient's household and working to identify all pregnant women in the area, with or without symptoms.
• $97 million to 58 state, territorial, city and local public health departments, including $22 million in emergency funds awarded earlier in the year to Florida and Texas. The money is intended to help strengthen surveillance and investigation and support states participating in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their babies.
• About $8 million to localities to establish, enhance and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect the severe birth defect known as microcephaly and other Zika-related health problems related to infection during pregnancy.
• Nearly $40 million to four universities to establish centers to effectively address emerging and exotic vector-borne diseases in the United States. Each of these universities is receiving nearly $10 million: University of Florida, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Cornell University.
• $14 million the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust to help oversee comprehensive mosquito control activities to prevent and manage diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya.