CDC Awards $60 Million to Local Governments to Fight Zika Virus Disease

Zika is is often asymptomatic, but infection during pregnancy can result in birth defects

CDC Awards $60 Million to Local Governments to Fight Zika Virus Disease
Image: Pixabay
July 26, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will distribute nearly $60 million in grants to states, cities, and territories to protect Americans, especially pregnant women, from Zika virus disease.

The funding will support activities to protect the health of the American public, including epidemiologic surveillance and investigation, improving mosquito control and monitoring, and strengthening laboratory capacity. It will also support participation in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants, as well as Zika-related activities in U.S. -Mexico border states.

"Local, state and territorial health departments are on the front lines in the fight against Zika," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, in a written statement. "These CDC funds will strengthen state and territorial capacity to respond to Zika virus, an increasingly concerning public health threat for pregnant women and babies. We hope Congress will provide the additional resources we need to fully support the Zika response."

This new funding will be made available on August 1, adding to the CDC's initial $25 million investment on July 1. It is distributed through the CDC's Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC), which provides annual funding to public health departments to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats.

Based on recommendations from public health experts, the Obama Administration has requested $1.9 billion to combat Zika and protect the homeland, but the budget has not been approved by Congress.

Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The infection can also be spread by men and women to their sex partners. There is currently no vaccine or treatment. Zika is often asymptomatic, but infection during pregnancy may cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in the developing fetus. Zika also has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person's immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis or death.