In southern Texas, the city of Laredo hasn’t confirmed a single case of dengue in nearly 20 years. Just a short walk across the border into Mexico, the city of Nuevo Laredo has confirmed hundreds of cases of the mosquito-borne disease. Hector Gonzalez says the difference lays in the city’s robust commitment to public health-led mosquito control.
Last year’s emergency Zika funding is about to run out and there’s no new money in the pipeline. It’s emblematic of the kind of short-term, reactive policymaking that public health officials have been warning us about for years. Now, as we head into summer, public health again faces a dangerous, highly complex threat along with an enormous funding gap.
A Zika attack rate of just 1 percent across the six states most at risk for the mosquito-borne disease could result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity, a new study finds. That’s more than the $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funding that Congress approved last year after months of delay and which is expected to run out this summer.
This morning, the Florida Department of Health reported a “high likelihood” of the first localized transmission of Zika virus from mosquito to person in the United States.
State, local public health lose critical funding because Congress fails to act on Zika: ‘Yes, we should be scared’
“In my darker hours when I’m sleeping at night, that’s where I go.” Those are words from Eric Blank, senior director for public health systems at the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), talking about the enormous difficulties that public health labs faced in confronting the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Now he fears that without emergency federal funds and in the face of new funding cuts, Zika virus will force the nation’s critical public health lab network into that same scenario — or into something even worse.
With near constant news on the threat of Zika virus and a quickly growing evidence base detailing the virus’ devastating impact on fetal brain development, you’d think Congress could get its act together to make sure our public health system is fully prepared and equipped to confront the mosquito-borne disease. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Most people infected with mosquito-borne West Nile virus don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, the tiny percentage of cases that do end up in the hospital total hundreds of millions of dollars in medical costs and lost productivity.