CDC awards Oklahoma $302,000 to help battle Zika

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When Zika virus made headlines because of its link with the neurological disorder microcephaly, it became the latest in a growing list of mosquito-borne viruses for Americans to worry about.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will award $302,000 to Oklahoma to fight the Zika virus.

The award is Oklahoma’s share of about $60 million CDC is awarding to states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus disease and adverse health outcomes that can result from Zika 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 to states, cities, and territories 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 new funding will support activities to protect the health of the American 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 (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).

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 (red eyes).

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, about $60 million, is being distributed through CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC), 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.

In addition to the Zika funding, Oklahoma will receive an additional $1.7 million through FY16 ELC funding for:

  • Activities related to CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, aimed at the growing threat of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, as well as activities to reduce healthcare-associated infections.
  • Foodborne disease prevention and tracking. This includes increased support for the PulseNet and OutbreakNet systems and for the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence including the new Northeast Regional Center, plus continued support for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).
  • Establishing and maintaining local, state, and territorial health coordinators to track vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough.
  • Rapid detection of and response to the antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea threat in nine states.
  • Building capacity for Advanced Molecular Detection, an emerging field that combines next-generation genomic sequencing with bioinformatics to more quickly identify and respond to disease outbreaks.