Delaware has seen few Zika cases, all believed to be the result of Delawareans traveling to hot spots for the virus. New federal funding will help the state’s Zika prevention and response efforts.
The federal funds to fight Zika come in the form of two grants. The first is a $1.7 million grant for Epidemiology and Laboratory Funding, which the state gets every year. This year, that grant includes $543,000 to fund the fight against Zika and West Nile Virus. The second grant is a $270,000 Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant which specifically targets Zika.
“We are ready. We are prepared,” Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. She said DPH has been working on Zika for months. “DPH has organized a Zika action team with individuals with expertise in infectious disease, epidemiology, maternal and child health, lab testing, communications, mosquito control and emergency preparedness.”
“This funding will greatly enhance our efforts to raise awareness among Delawareans about how they can reduce mosquito populations around their homes,” DNREC Secretary David Small said.
Delaware is home to the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) which can carry West Nile virus and possibly transmit Zika as well. Reducing the Asian tiger mosquito population is critical for reducing bites and the chances of transmission of those mosquito-borne diseases.
The Delaware funding announcement comes as the federal government shifts funding to the development of a Zika vaccine. The government is moving $34 million to the National Institutes of Health and $47 million to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to work on a vaccine.