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ARTICLE

Are Americans Fully Protected Against the Zika Virus?

JUN 30, 2016 | DANIELLE MROZ, MA
According to Dr. Redd, “the US government response to Zika right now is really operating on a shoestring. The administration has taken funds from other places so that we have some funding available to respond right now, but the $1.9 billion that the president requested is really critical to be able to respond effectively.”
 
The proactive interventions that need to be in place, from vector-control activities, to diagnostic testing, to communication with the public, require funding. “Some of the interventions are really quite expensive, the vector-control activities in particular.” stated Dr. Redd.
 
He continued, “There are scientific questions that really won’t get answered unless we have the funding. We really won’t be able to protect the American people to the extent that we can, from the technology standpoint, without that funding.”
 
Since research and prevention activities cannot be stalled, Dr. Redd indicated that substantial cuts have been made within the CDC in order to fund these efforts. One area that was particularly impacted was the preparedness work that states do for other outbreaks of infectious diseases. According to Dr. Redd, “[This area] has been cut 8% as part of the effort to respond to Zika. [As a result] there are things that states need to do to stay prepared for other threats that they won’t be able to do unless there is funding for Zika.”
 
View Dr. Redd’s response in its entirety here:

 
The CDC is not the only national organization making cuts to fund efforts to combat Zika. According to a recent report, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is also borrowing funding from other programs to continue their efforts against the virus. Despite a lack of funding, the institute has started enrolling men who are infected with the virus in Brazil and Colombia in a study to learn more about the virus’ virility in semen. This is of particular importance since it was confirmed that the virus can be transmitted from an infected male to a partner through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Although the study could take years to complete, results that come to bear during the course of the research “could help public health officials fine-tune their recommendations on sex.”
 
Commenting on the continuation of their efforts despite the lack of funding, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of NIAID was quoted as saying, “We are going out on a limb, but we have to. We can’t say we are going to wait until we get all the money.”
 
Congress is set to be back in session next week, and so we will have to wait and see whether or not Republicans and Democrats can come to a decision. National health organizations will continue to research the Zika virus’s effects; however, only time will tell if there will be repercussions from diverting and borrowing funds from other health efforts.
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