Obama Administration to Convene Summit On Zika Outbreak Next Month

A medical researcher works on results of tests for preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the Gorgas Memorial institute for Health Studies laboratory in Panama City February 5, 2016. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Carlos Jasso)
A medical researcher works on results of tests for preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the Gorgas Memorial institute for Health Studies laboratory in Panama City February 5, 2016. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Carlos Jasso)

The White House will convene a one-day summit next month with state and local officials in an effort to control the mosquito spreading Zika virus, administration officials said Friday.

The virus, which has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, is projected to reach the continental United States by June or July because its mosquito carrier, Aedes aegypti, could arrive as early as April or May. The disease is already a serious problem in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Participants will hear the latest scientific knowledge about Zika, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner, including implications for pregnant women and strategies for mosquito control. The meeting will also provide an opportunity to identify both the best approaches to addressing the virus and  possible gaps in preparedness and response at the federal, state and local levels.

There are 117 confirmed cases of the virus in Puerto Rico, four times the number at the end of January. The territory, which has a population of 3.5 million people and has been struggling with a massive debt, is “by far the most affected area” in the United States, CDC director Tom Frieden said Friday.

Frieden will be traveling next week to Puerto Rico, according to agency officials.

The Zika Readiness Action Plan Summit, which will take place April 1 at CDC’s Atlanta headquarters, was first reported by Reuters on Friday morning.

The meeting is part of a broad administration strategy to establish a coalition of federal, state and local leaders to formulate a coordinated approach for preventing the spread of Zika virus to pregnant women, who are the most vulnerable because of the risk of birth defects.

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SOURCE: Juliet Eilperin 
The Washington Post

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