Donovan Calls on CDC to Address Lack of Zika Virus Testing Facilities
Washington, DC—February 2, 2016….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today requested plans from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to address the lack of available tests for the Zika virus. Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international emergency.
Congressman Donovan said, “The CDC is the most capable public health organization on the planet. Still, this obscure disease did not threaten the public’s health in any meaningful way until now, and the public has a right to know: Does the government have sufficient capacity to handle increased demand for diagnostic tests? If not, then what does the CDC need from Congress to adequately protect the public’s health?”
Zika virus has been confirmed in three New York City patients. The disease is spread through mosquitos, and health officials believe the outbreak originated in Brazil. While Zika is usually accompanied with mild symptoms, it may be associated with birth defects in children born from infected mothers. The CDC issued travel advisories to regions with a high risk of Zika transmission, mostly in Central and South America. New York is one of four states, plus the CDC, with laboratories capable of testing for Zika.
Donovan’s letter states, “Given the freedom and frequency of travel within the United States, the presence of a diagnostic laboratory in one state will likely have little impact on that state’s ability to identify and contain Zika victims. I would like to know what steps your agency is taking to increase the capacity of the public health system to test for Zika. Additionally, I respectfully request that you provide my office with information pertaining to the CDC’s long-term plan for working with state and local health officials to track patient outcomes for pregnant women and their infants who have been exposed to the virus.”