Miami

MIAMI. Public health officials prep for Zika (Naples Daily News)

By Liz Freeman

Deep funding cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would severely undermine response to a renewed Zika threat that’s expected as the summer mosquito season ramps up, a panel of public health officials said Wednesday.

The consequences of a $1.2 billion cut, which is one-eighth of the CDC’s entire budget, would trickle down to county health departments in Florida and Texas that were hard hit by Zika last summer.

The county agencies relied on federal support for laboratory testing and ground-level surveillance.

President Trump’s budget proposal also includes cutting $109 million to the public health emergency preparedness program and another $40 million to the epidemiology and laboratory capacity program, according to Laura Hanen, interim executive director and chief of government affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Hanen was part of a press briefing Wednesday about the status of Zika and how Trump’s proposed cuts would come on top of one-time Zika funding last year that expires shortly.

Congress allocated $1.1 billion for a Zika response in 2016.

There is no more money coming behind that unless Congress recommends a comprehensive approach,” she said.

What’s really needed is a permanent public health emergency fund so there isn’t a scramble to secure money to react each time there’s a public health threat, said Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer with the March of Dimes.

“That is not how FEMA operates,” Jarris said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that responds to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

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MIAMI & HOUSTON. New Zika Cases in Florida Show U.S. Cities' Struggle Without Federal Funding (Governing)

After Congress left cities to fend for themselves, four new cases -- possibly the first to be contracted by mosquitoes in the U.S. -- suggest how difficult it is for them to combat the virus on their own.

BY MATTIE QUINN 

Congressional inaction on Zika funds has hampered efforts on the local level to stop the spread of the disease. That was more or less proven Friday when Florida Department of Health officials said it's highly likely that four new cases in Miami were the first to be contracted by infected mosquitoes in the U.S.

To date, there have been 1,658 cases of Zika in the continental United States. But so far, they've all involved someone who had traveled to a foreign country or had sex with someone who had recently been to a Zika-affected country.

President Obama in May proposed $1.9 billion to help combat the spread of the virus. Congress, however, was unable to agree on that number and left for recess without allocating any extra money for state and local governments.

Even if Congress does allocate Zika funding, local officials say they may already have missed an important window for combatting the virus.

“The real tragedy is that now is the time when you need the extra money and resources: July and August is mosquito control time all across the U.S.,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. “Everything from here on out is just going to be damage control.”

In the absence of federal funding, localities have been left to fend for themselves.

“The Centers for Disease Control is not going to fight this disease. This is going to be a fight almost exclusively at the local level,” said Hotez.

Beyond mosquito control, which is hardest in the summer months, Hotez says local health centers must start being constantly on the lookout for possible cases.

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MIAMI. Zika “active transmission area” in Miami, health department says (Miami Herald)

BY DAVID J. NEAL dneal@miamiherald.com

Florida’s Department of Health announced there’s a “high likelihood” of four locally-transmitted cases of the Zika virus in Miami-Dade and Broward County, the first locally-transmitted cases in the United States, and “believes there’s an active transmission area” that includes Wynwood, Midtown and the Design District areas of Miami.

The department defined the transmission area’s boundaries as U.S. 1 (Biscayne Boulevard) to the east; Northwest Fifth Avenue to the west; 20th Street on the south; and 38th Street on the north.

“While no mosquitoes trapped tested positive for the Zika virus, the department believes these cases were likely transmitted through infected mosquitoes in this area,” the department declared in a news release.

“The department is actively conducting door-to-door outreach and urine sample collection in the impacted area and will share more details as they become available. The results from these efforts will help department determine the number of people affected. These local cases were identified by clinicians who brought them to the attention of the department. In addition, blood banks in the area are currently excluding donations from impacted areas until screening protocols are in place.”
 

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