Marianas Variety - U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan announced that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation will receive $400,000 in federal funds to address the threat of the Zika virus.
The Centers for Disease Control awarded the money to 40 states and territories based on the risk of Zika virus transmission in the area and the availability of local funds. Total funding nationwide was $16 million.
“There have been no cases of Zika virus in the Northern Marianas to date,” Congressman Sablan said. “But the congressional office has been in weekly communication with CDC and officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure we are fully informed about the spread of the disease and to make sure that CHCC is getting all the assistance it needs to be fully prepared.
“Because the Marianas is a tropical area we are particularly at risk for Zika. And that fact is reflected in the amount of the total available funds that was allotted to CHCC.”
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to birth defects, when pregnant women are infected. According to the CDC, the money awarded today is to help develop CHCC’s capacity to rapidly detect these adverse birth outcomes, particularly microcephaly, caused by Zika virus infection.
The funding also will help states and territories ensure that affected infants and their families are referred to appropriate health and social service agencies and enable states and territories to monitor over time the health and developmental outcomes of children affected by Zika.
In American Samoa in the Pacific and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean mosquitos are already spreading the disease. American Samoa had 42 reported cases as of July 27. Puerto Rico has 4,699 cases, the Virgin Islands 21.
This week, for the first time cases of Zika, believed caused by mosquito bites, have been reported in the continental United States — in Miami, Florida. CDC reports that Florida officials are responding with mosquito control measures and a community-wide search for additional Zika cases. CDC is currently advising pregnant women not to travel to the area.
Previously, 1,658 cases of Zika had been reported in the continental United States and Hawaii, but none of these cases were the result of local mosquitos. Some cases occurred in persons who had traveled to Zika-infected areas of the world. Fifteen cases are believed to have been sexually transmitted. One was the result of laboratory exposure.