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U.S. Officials Prepare Response To Zika Virus, As WHO, Latin American Officials Warn Disease Spreading Rapidly

CQ HealthBeat: Shaheen Asks for Spending Estimates for Fighting Zika Virus
“…In a Jan. 27 letter, [Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)] asked the secretaries of the Health and Human Services, State, and Homeland Security departments to ‘swiftly detail’ any additional resources they may want to request to fight Zika virus. Obama will release his fiscal 2017 budget request on Feb. 9. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Shaheen will be in a position to advocate for resources to combat Zika. She is the top Democrat on the committee’s Homeland Security panel and also a member of its Labor-Health and Human Services-Education panel…” (Young, 1/27).

The Hill: White House: Zika virus is not Ebola
“The Obama administration is looking to ease public fears over the Zika virus as it becomes increasingly likely that the mosquito-borne disease will spread to the U.S. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that federal officials are planning a ‘conspicuous, concerted effort’ to communicate the risks of the disease, making clear that it poses a far different — and less severe — threat than the recent Ebola epidemic…” (Ferris, 1/27).

New York Times: Zika Virus ‘Spreading Explosively’ in Americas, WHO Says
“Officials from the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the Zika virus was ‘spreading explosively’ in the Americas and announced that they would convene an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether to declare a public health emergency…” (Tavernise, 1/28).

New York Times: Reports of Zika-Linked Birth Defect Rise in Brazil
“Brazil’s health ministry issued new figures on Wednesday about the Zika virus that offered reason for continued concern, but also a glimmer of hope…” (Romero, 1/27).

Reuters: Global health body under pressure to stop Zika virus
“The World Health Organization will hold a special session on Thursday on the Zika virus as the U.N. agency comes under pressure for quick action against the infection linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil that is spreading through Latin America and the Caribbean…” (Steenhuysen/Nebehay, 1/28).

Reuters: U.S. researchers call for WHO to take rapid action on Zika
“U.S. researchers called on the World Health Organization on Wednesday to take swift action on the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus that is linked with thousands of birth defects in Brazil and is rapidly spreading in Latin America and the Caribbean. Georgetown University researchers urged WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to heed the lessons of Ebola and act quickly…” (Steenhuysen/Nebehay, 1/27).

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Announces More Microcephaly Cases Possibly Linked to Zika Virus
“Even as Brazil’s president pledged an ‘extreme commitment’ to eradicating the mosquito-borne Zika virus, new government figures released Wednesday show birth defects possibly linked to the virus continue to increase, though by fewer cases than in the previous period…” (Jelmayer/Johnson, 1/27).

Washington Post: Why the United States is so vulnerable to the alarming spread of Zika virus
“With the Zika virus now circulating in two dozen countries and territories across the Americas, the mosquito-borne pathogen seems destined to reach the United States and likely sooner rather than later. What is far less certain, say public health and infectious disease experts, is Zika’s potential reach and impact here…” (Sun/Dennis, 1/27).

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