TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is earmarking millions of dollars to prepare states and cities for future Zika virus outbreaks, and to track the effects of the virus on the unborn.
The CDC will steer $25 million in recently approved funding to states and some cities for Zika preparedness and response efforts, agency Chief Operating Officer Sherri Berger said Tuesday.
The agency also plans to provide $70 million to $120 million to state health departments, for use in detecting and tracking the Zika virus, Berger added.
The CDC already has ongoing efforts to track Zika-affected births in the United States, which include a Zika pregnancy registry covering all the states and all U.S. territories except Puerto Rico, said Dr. Denise Jamieson, co-lead of the CDC Zika Virus Response Team’s Pregnancy and Birth Defects Team.
Puerto Rico has been suffering the worst U.S. outbreak of Zika, with 25,355 locally acquired cases reported as of Oct. 12, according to the CDC. A more in-depth Zika pregnancy registry has been established there, which involves active medical record reviews, Jamieson said.
The CDC also is supporting studies of Zika-affected pregnancies in Colombia and Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak, she added.
The most common defect is microcephaly, in which a child is born with an abnormally small brain and skull. Thousands of babies have been born with Zika-linked microcephaly, most of them in Brazil, since an outbreak began in South America in April 2015.
The expenditures discussed Tuesday by the CDC are part of $1.1 billion in Zika response funding approved by Congress late last month.
Because of the Congressional spending package, the CDC also will be restoring about $44.25 million in public health emergency preparedness money that had been re-routed to pay for early Zika response efforts, said Dr. Stephen Redd, director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.
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