The Obama administration announced today (Monday February 8, 2016) that it would request $1.8 billion in new money to combat Zika virus, a mosquito transmitted disease. Part of the money is for research:
*How is Zika transmitted? There is some evidence that it can be transmitted sexually in addition to transmission by mosquitos.
*Can better detection methods be developed?
*Does Zika cause microcephaly or Guillain-Barré syndrome? If so, what is the mechanism?
Part of the money will go to prevention including monitoring:
*CDC (Center for Disease Control) will collect reports of disease incidence and location.
*Some funds will target enhanced control of Aedes aegypti, an important vector.
*Will Aedes albopictus, a more widespread species in the US be an important vector of Zika? This species needs to be monitored
Over $800 million would go to CDC and $200 million for vaccine research. The US Territory, Puerto Rico, which is currently experiencing a Zika outbreak, would receive $250 million. $335 million would go to the US-AID (Agency for International Development). Other countries are also contributing to the global effort. As with Ebola, reducing the incidence of Zika in other countries can reduce the impact in the US.
In addition to the proposed effort to fight Zika, the administration would like to establish an Urgent and Emerging Threat Fund so response could be more rapid. Prevention has a hefty price tag, but the cost is a bargain compared to the long term costs associated with this virus.