Surgeon general: ‘We are going to run out of funds’ for Zika


The nation’s top doctor is stepping up his warnings about the need for funds to fight the Zika virus in the U.S.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says federal health agencies are nearing the end of their reserves as they to try to halt the outbreak and will need new funds from Congress immediately to keep fighting the disease.

{mosads}“I think we’re coming to the point where we are going to run out of funds to support the Zika response,” Murthy said in a wide-ranging interview with health news website Stat published Friday. “And that’s gonna happen right as we’re hitting mosquito season in the United States.”

Murthy is the latest Obama administration official to amplify calls for more Zika funding as warmer weather arrives in the U.S., increasing the populations of mosquitoes that help spread the disease. In most cases, Zika causes mild symptoms, but it has been shown to cause severe birth defects when contracted by pregnant women.

Republicans in Congress have repeatedly said the Obama administration has enough money to fight Zika for the time being.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OKla.), a leading House appropriator, published an op-ed on Tuesday asserting the nation’s “immediate needs are already being funded” for Zika.

“Never has the administration been strapped for funds to deal with Ebola or Zika,” Cole said.

Health officials first asked for more money — a total of $1.9 billion — in February.

Since then, the administration has been forced to move about a half-billion dollars from an existing fund meant to fight Ebola in order to jump-start the Zika response.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also announced plans to take another $50 million from its local emergency grant program.

State and local officials are also calling for more money this week, after Congress left town for Memorial Day without approving a funding package.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) sent a three-page list to the White House on Wednesday with requests from dozens of counties about what they need to fight Zika, including more personnel, more training and more mosquito traps and repellent.

Other cities, like Baltimore, have tried to get ahead of the Zika virus and say they urgently need more money.

“Without funding appropriated directly to local agencies and urban areas, we are falling short of implementing the kind of proactive and robust prevention efforts that residents across the country deserve,” Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, wrote in a letter to GOP leaders on Friday.

Tags Flaviviruses Vivek Murthy Zika Zika virus Zika virus outbreak timeline

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