CDC pledges $720K to track Zika-related birth defects in Florida
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending another $720,000 to help Florida health officials detect and track birth defects from the Zika virus.
It's part of $16 million allocated by the CDC's birth defect arm going to 40 states and territories as "a stopgap diverted from other public health resources until Zika funds are provided by Congress," according to a news release.
“It is critical to identify infants with birth defects related to Zika virus so we can support them and their families,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. "This CDC funding provides real-time data about the Zika epidemic as it unfolds in the United States and territories and will help those most devastated by this virus.”
Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a defect that causes babies to be born with a smaller head than normal. Travel-related cases of the virus have been in the U.S. since last year, but Florida last week became the first state where mosquitoes are actively spreading Zika.
Fourteen locally acquired cases have been confirmed in South Florida, most of them stemming from a 150-yard area around a single "worksite" in the Wynwood area north of Miami, Frieden told reporters Monday.
The CDC already announced an additional $1.3 million last month to purchase repellent, screens, and supplies for Zika prevention kits in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has pledged $26.2 million from state reserves to aid local mosquito control units and county health departments in stopping the virus' spread.
Scott, President Barack Obama and Florida's congressional leaders have called for Congress to act on $1.1 billion Zika prevention legislation. Congress left for a seven-week recess without doing so.