CDC Provides Millions in Funding to Battle Zika and Monitor Complications

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it will be granting a total of $60 million, in addition to previously granted funds, to states, cities, and territories, to protect Americans from the virus.

Exactly one week after a bill that would have granted more than $1 billion in funds to combat Zika failed in a GOP re-vote, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it will be granting a total of $60 million to states, cities, and territories, to protect Americans from the virus.

Although there remains much we do not know about Zika, the information available proves that the virus can be very harmful in those at risk of developing complications. In an exclusive interview with Contagion, Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the CDC, shed light on the background of complications associated with a Zika infection. He stated that the microcephaly associated with a Zika infection is "a very particular type of microcephaly where the brain of these babies is actually destroyed and the skull collapses on itself. This is the most severe form of the birth defect associated with Zika."

The awarded funding will focus on the group of highest concern at the moment: pregnant women and their fetuses. Funding will support the previously established US Zika Pregnancy Registry, which aims to monitor pregnant women residing within the continental United States and Hawaii for infection with the Zika virus. In addition to this, funding will also go towards efforts in disease surveillance and investigation, vector surveillance and control, and laboratory diagnostics. The CDC will also focus on “Zika-related activities in US-Mexico border states,” according to their press release. Further funding will target surveillance of microcephaly and other Zika-related congenital complications. This $10 million award will also allow states, cities, and territories to provide special services to families affected by Zika.

The new funding is awarded in addition to the $25 million provided through CDC’s preparedness and response funds, which was awarded immediately after the GOP bill fell through. According to the press release, funding will be “distributed through the CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC).” Although this would make for a total of $95 million in Zika funds, according to the CDC, “additional support will be needed to help further expand mosquito control capabilities and develop a Zika vaccine and diagnostics, among other priorities.” Dr. Redd previously commented on the lack of government funding, stating, "“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.”

State, city and territorial health departments will have access to these funds starting August 1, 2016.