First likely local transmission of Zika in US requires urgent action

Date: Jul 29 2016

First likely local transmission of Zika in US requires urgent action, APHA says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daniel Greenberg, 202-777-3913

Washington, D.C., July 29, 2016 — Today’s announcement from the Florida Department of Health of the first likely non-travel related cases of Zika virus infection in the continental U.S. confirms long-held public health concerns and requires immediate action, the American Public Health Association said.

The department found a high likelihood that four cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the result of local transmission. Since 2015, more than 6,400 people in the U.S. and U.S. territories have contracted the virus, which is a cause of microcephaly and other major fetal birth defects, and has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome.

“Sadly, we knew this outcome was probable with each passing day that Congress failed to fund Zika protection and response,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. “And now Congress has adjourned for summer recess.

“Public health is AGAIN being asked to do more with less to keep Americans safe. We’ll do the best we can. Damage has already been done, but when Congress comes back in September, it must make sending bipartisan Zika legislation to the president a top priority.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not announced any plans to limit travel in Florida, and has funded the state with more than $8 million in Zika-related activities. The agency has also provided $27 million in nationwide emergency preparedness funding that can be used for Zika response efforts. 

“We applaud CDC for doing its best to stop Zika from spreading, but they’ve had to take money from other vital public health programs to do so. That leaves us all vulnerable, and it’s certainly not a long-term solution.”

In February, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in funding for Zika-related activities. Since then APHA has joined public health advocates in support of a comprehensive response that helps communities prepare for and prevent local transmission of Zika, enhances laboratory and surveillance capacity, contains Zika in affected areas and provides services for affected pregnant women and children. Visit APHA’s Zika page and fact sheet in English and Spanish to keep your family safe from the virus.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the profession of public health, share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research. We are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.