Zika virus

Tag archives for Zika virus

Last year’s emergency Zika funding is about to run out and there’s no new money in the pipeline. It’s emblematic of the kind of short-term, reactive policymaking that public health officials have been warning us about for years. Now, as we head into summer, public health again faces a dangerous, highly complex threat along with an enormous funding gap.

A Zika attack rate of just 1 percent across the six states most at risk for the mosquito-borne disease could result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity, a new study finds. That’s more than the $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funding that Congress approved last year after months of delay and which is expected to run out this summer.

This morning, the Florida Department of Health reported a “high likelihood” of the first localized transmission of Zika virus from mosquito to person in the United States.

“In my darker hours when I’m sleeping at night, that’s where I go.” Those are words from Eric Blank, senior director for public health systems at the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), talking about the enormous difficulties that public health labs faced in confronting the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Now he fears that without emergency federal funds and in the face of new funding cuts, Zika virus will force the nation’s critical public health lab network into that same scenario — or into something even worse.

Federal investment in controlling infectious diseases has saved lives and averted economic losses in the past. But without sustained support for public health and preparedness, we’ll remain at risk.

With near constant news on the threat of Zika virus and a quickly growing evidence base detailing the virus’ devastating impact on fetal brain development, you’d think Congress could get its act together to make sure our public health system is fully prepared and equipped to confront the mosquito-borne disease. Sadly, you’d be wrong.