BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The CDC is awarding $2.4 million to the state of Louisiana to fight the Zika virus.
The award is Louisiana's share of about $60 million the CDC is awarding to states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from the Zika virus and adverse health outcomes from the infection, including the serious birth defect microcephaly.
The funding is in addition to $25 million awarded on July 1 as part of CDC's preparedness and response funding in areas at risk for outbreaks of Zika. On August 1, CDC also will award another $10 million to quickly identify cases of microcephaly and other adverse birth outcomes linked to Zika and to refer affected infants and families to services.
The Obama Administration has requested $1.9 billion that public health experts identified as necessary to combat Zika and protect the homeland, but the budget has not been approved by Congress.
"Our local, state and territorial health departments are on the front lines in the fight against Zika, and though the necessary funding that is needed isn't yet available, we cannot wait to provide this essential support," said CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "These CDC funds will strengthen state and territorial capacity to respond to Zika virus, an increasingly concerning public health threat."
The new funding will support activities to protect the health of the public, especially pregnant women, through epidemiologic surveillance and investigation, strengthening laboratory capacity, and improving mosquito control and monitoring.
It will also support participation in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants, as well as Zika-related activities in U.S.-Mexico border states. However, additional support will be needed to help expand mosquito control capabilities and develop a Zika vaccine and diagnostics, among other priorities.
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, although Aedes aegypti are more likely to spread Zika.
The Zika infection can also be spread by men and women to their sex partners. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.
The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, Zika infection during pregnancy may cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in the developing fetus.
Zika also has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person's immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis or death.
The new Zika funding is being distributed through CDC's Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement, which supports an array of federal projects to strengthen the ability of domestic public health departments to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats.