U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, said Friday Congress should make it a top priority to fund efforts to control the Zika virus when it returns to Washington next week after a week-long recess.
Buchanan, the first Republican in the U.S. House to support the President’s $1.9 billion plan to confront the disease, said, “every day brings more bad news about the potential impact of the mosquito-borne virus.” A child with Zika-related microcephaly was born on the U.S. mainland earlier this week.
Florida is ground zero, reporting 165 cases as of Thursday. The Department of Defense is also taking measures to combat the virus on U.S. military installations and protect troops and their families. According to a Pentagon memo, the mosquito species capable of carrying the Zika virus is likely found on 190 military installations in 27 states and three territories.
“Congress needs to take this threat seriously and approve funding immediately to confront this serious public health threat,” Buchanan said. “Every day we delay increases risk for vulnerable populations.”
The CDC is monitoring over 340 pregnant women with confirmed or suspected Zika virus infections in the United States and its territories.