White House moves funds to prepare for Zika virus
The White House has stated that Congress hasn’t followed up with President Barack Obama’s request from January to move $1.9 billion to assist scientists in battling the Zika virus.
“Over this time, Congress has done nothing. Now, we know that we cannot continue to fund a robust response to this disease without adequate resources, particularly for our partners in state and local government who bear much of the burden of fighting Zika.”
The Obama Administration has decided to transfer $510 million from the Ebola research, for a total fund of $589 million. This fund would also include research for mosquito control, which is vital as the warmer weather makes its way across the United States.
On the Zika virus, Obama said:
“We’ve consistently said that an available option for the government was to re-purpose some existing Ebola funds that would not undermine our fight against that deadly disease.
“But we also told Congress that just using some of the Ebola funds would be insufficient. And that should be an indication to you that today’s actions to reprogram $600 million is a temporary fix and not at all a long-term solution.”
The problems don’t just stop at the financials and research.
Josh Earnest has said that there are concerns about the Zika virus, because scientists discovered that there are more ways to become infected by the female Adedes species mosquito other than the traditional mosquito bite, which often leads to fever, joint pain, rashes, headaches, red eyes, and conjunctivitis. 4 out of 5 people who get the Zika Virus don’t even know it because symptoms don’t always show up.
“We have learned that sexual transmission of the virus is actually more common than was initially believed. We also learned that the impact of the virus on fetal brain development is likely starker and more serious than first understood.
“Third, in the US, the geographical range of the mosquito that carries this virus is significantly broader than our initial estimate. And as we learn more about all of these things, we continue to be concerned about the potential impact of this virus on the public health situation inside the country.”
Currently, the United States has about 40 million travelers going back and forth from places where the virus is spreading, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. Since the virus can be spread through sexual interaction, Burwell said she is focused on protecting pregnant women and those who may become pregnant by infected sperm. The Zika Virus is linked to fetal abnormalities such as Guillain-Barre, which is an autoimmune disease that can lead to paralysis. This can also lead to Microcephaly in babies, a condition in which the infant’s head doesn’t mature to the full capacity and can lead to severe issues with development and death.
The CDC has reported at least 346 cases of this virus currently in the United States. Experts are all agreeing that there are too many unknowns when it comes to Zika Virus; we have more to learn every day.
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