Friday, May 27, 2016

Morgan Griffith on Zika Virus

This was too far down the e-mail for too long. Apologies. From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

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Combating Zika

On March 2, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations convened a hearing examining the public health crisis involving the Zika virus, which has affected Africa and Asia for decades but last year reached the Americas. This virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes are known as “container-breeding mosquitoes,” because they lay eggs in and around standing water. The Aedes aegypti mosquito lives in our area, and may live in or around our homes.

Additionally, Zika virus may be passed from a man with the virus to female or male sex partners. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus can generally be detected by current diagnostic tests in blood and/or urine up to 14 days after the onset of symptoms. It also has been detected in semen as long as 62 days after onset of symptoms. However, the length of time that the Zika virus can persist in various bodily fluids is under active scientific investigation, which is a fancy way of saying we don’t yet know how long it stays in the system.

Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, but Zika has also been definitely linked to the microcephaly birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This defect can lead to other problems including but not limited to seizures, developmental delays or intellectual disabilities, issues with movement, balance, feeding, etc. In its severe form, microcephaly can be life-threatening. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Among those testifying at that March 2 hearing was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the federal government’s top expert on infectious diseases.

On ABC’s May 22 “This Week” Sunday show, Dr. Fauci indicated that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus may begin infecting Americans within U.S. borders within the next “month or so.”

Dr. Fauci said, “a vaccine certainly is the long-term solution,” though he noted a large trial may not be ready until early next year.

In an effort to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding around your home, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends emptying, scrubbing, turning over, etc. water-holding containers such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, pool covers, and more. Additionally, to help prevent spreading Zika, the CDC recommends taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. Because it can also be transmitted sexually, the agency also recommends practicing safe sex. Again, more information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Further, you may wish to be careful when traveling or even avoid traveling to areas such as Central or South America where Zika virus is prevalent. Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) is so concerned he has urged the CDC to raise its travel notices advising travelers and clinicians about health issues in various destinations from an Alert Level 2 (urging the following of enhanced precautions for those destinations) to a Level 3 Warning, which is a warning to avoid nonessential travel.

Last week in the House, we passed legislation to provide the immediate funding of $622.1 million through the end of the fiscal year for use in fighting and preventing the spread of Zika virus. This bill, which contains strong oversight measures to ensure the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, is fully paid for by using leftover unobligated funds from the Ebola outbreak and other unused funding. While the President has asked for more funds, his funds would be utilized over a longer period of time. What the House has passed frontloads the funds, because as Dr. Fauci said, getting “a vaccine certainly is the long-term solution.” The quicker we can get a vaccine or other treatment options, the more lives we can save or make better.

Additionally, my colleagues and I in Congress recently passed the Adding Zika Virus to the Food and Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher Program Act (S. 2512), which was signed into law. This will encourage the research and development of vaccines and potential treatments, helping us to learn more about Zika virus.

We will continue working in a responsible, effective manner to help protect people from the spread of Zika.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
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