The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today it is awarding nearly $184 million in funding to states, territories, local jurisdictions, and universities to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus infection and associated adverse health outcomes, including microcephaly and other serious birth defects. These awards are part of the $350 million in funding provided to CDC under the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.
“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “States, territories, and communities need this CDC funding to fight Zika and protect the next generation of Americans.”
With remaining supplemental funds, CDC will continue important work, including sending emergency response teams to states with Zika outbreaks to partner with state and local public health officials; providing reference and surge laboratory capacity for the nation; providing a framework for tracking pregnancies and births affected by Zika; helping states deploy and target effective mosquito control; and supporting timely, accurate, and effective communication to the public and health care providers.
The $184 million in CDC awards will fund the following Zika efforts:
• Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Zika Activities: CDC is awarding $25 million to 21 jurisdictions at greatest risk of Zika infections in their communities. Jurisdictions will use the funds to rapidly identify and investigate a possible outbreak of Zika virus in their communities; coordinate a comprehensive response across all levels of government and nongovernmental partners (including the healthcare sector); and identify and connect families affected by Zika to community services. Funding can also be used to purchase preparedness resources like insect repellent, screens and supplies for Zika Prevention Kits. For more information on the breakdown of Zika supplemental funding by jurisdiction: www.cdc.gov/phpr/funding/zika-funding.htm.
• Zika Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Activities: CDC is awarding nearly $97 million to 58 state, territorial, city, and local public health departments through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement. This includes $22 million in emergency funds ELC awarded to Florida and Texas earlier this fiscal year. These funds will strengthen epidemiologic surveillance and investigation, improve mosquito control and monitoring, and strengthen laboratory capacity. They will also support states participating in the US Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants, as well as Zika-related activities in US-Mexico border states. For more information on the breakdown of Zika supplemental funding by jurisdiction: www.cdc.gov/elc.
• Zika Birth Defects Surveillance Activities: CDC is awarding more than $8 million to 38 state, territorial, and local jurisdictions to establish, enhance, and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly–a serious birth defect of the brain–and other adverse outcomes potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy. These funds will also help states and territories ensure that infants and their families are referred to appropriate health and social services. Finally, the awards will enable states and territories to monitor the health and developmental outcomes of children affected by Zika. For more information on the breakdown of Zika supplemental funding by jurisdiction: www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/surveillancefunding.pdf.
• Vector-Borne Disease Regional Centers of Excellence: CDC is awarding nearly $40 million to four universities to establish centers that can help effectively address emerging and exotic vector-borne diseases in the United States, like Zika. There are significant regional differences in vector ecology, disease transmission dynamics and resources across the United States. These centers will help generate the necessary research, knowledge and capacity to enable appropriate and timely local public health action for vector-borne diseases throughout the country. CDC is awarding nearly $10 million each to the University of Florida, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and Cornell University.
• Vector Control Unit in Puerto Rico: CDC is awarding $14 million to the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (ST&R Trust) to oversee the first vector control unit (VCU) in Puerto Rico, which CDC helped establish. The funding will support ST&R Trust as they continue to implement comprehensive mosquito control activities to help prevent and manage diseases spread by mosquitos, like Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (specifically, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). Zika infection can also be spread by people who are infected to their sex partners. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika and many people infected with Zika have no symptoms. Of those who do have symptoms, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities 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. Additionally, pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus, and should take steps to protect themselves during sex if their partner has traveled to an area with Zika.