As the 2017 mosquito season draws near, states are bracing for another potential outbreak of the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne illness responsible for microcephaly in babies born to infected people. State health officials across the country have started to ramp up prevention efforts, encouraging residents to get tested and use repellent. Since parents-to-be are especially vulnerable, here’s how states plan to protect pregnant people from Zika.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 5,260 Zika cases reported between January 1, 2015, and April 26, 2017. The majority of those cases occurred in people traveling from affected areas, although 224 total reported cases in Florida and Texas were due to local mosquito-borne transmission. Although Zika outbreaks have died down in some states, public health officials are remaining diligent as this year’s mosquito season approaches.
States, though, are worried that they won’t have the federal dollars needed to support their prevention efforts. According to PBS, the CDC has told state health departments that Zika funding will likely run out this summer, although it was intended to last five years. State health officials have said that the lack of federal money could hurt efforts to provide prevention services, as well as services for infants born with Zika-related birth defects, PBS reported. Still, states are forging ahead with plans to stop the virus not only in their region but also across the country.
Since January 2015, Texas has seen more than 300 confirmed Zika cases, according to CDC data, including 10 new cases this year. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the risk of contracting Zika is on the rise and temperatures continue to climb in the state. (Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio have made Orkin’s top 50 list of the worst mosquito cities in the country.) In response, DSHS has urged all pregnant people in six South Texas counties — Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy, Zapata — who are in the first or second trimester to get tested for Zika.
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