Poll: 3 in 4 support boost in funding to combat Zika virus

Poll: 3 in 4 support boost in funding to combat Zika virus
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Three-quarters of Americans support an increase in federal research dollars to help fight the Zika virus, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey, which was commissioned by the nonprofit health advocacy group March of Dimes, shows high levels of public support for action on Zika. Nearly 90 percent of Democrats support the funding increase, compared to about 65 percent of Republicans.  

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“This new survey shows clearly that Americans believe that Congress needs to step up and do more to combat Zika,” March of Dimes President Jennifer Howse wrote in a statement.

The poll, which was released on the day that Congress returns from its seven-week recess, also shows a double-digit increase in the percentage of people who are at least somewhat concerned about a rise in Zika infections in the U.S. More than 6 in 10 people said they are “moderately worried” about a Zika outbreak, up from 52 percent in March.

The Zika virus began spreading in the continental U.S. last month, and more than 50 people have been infected with the virus in Florida. Public-health experts say there are still about two months left of mosquito season.

The virus poses the biggest threat to pregnant women because it is known to cause severe birth defects to newborns. Most people with the virus do not know they are infected.

Howse said the new polling data underscore the pressure that Republican leaders could face if Congress again fails to approve a package to fund the effort to combat the virus.

The Senate is expected to vote later Tuesday on a GOP-backed $1.1 billion funding bill that has already been brought down twice by Senate Democrats.

The survey, which was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, included 2,379 participants and had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.