CDC gets $1.1 billion to fight back Zika virus

CDC gets $1.1 billion to fight back Zika virus

The federal funding of $1.1 billion will help health authorities combat the threat posed by Zika and pay for long-term studies on how the virus affects exposed individuals, the nation's top public health official said on Monday.

To date, more than 25,000 people in various states and territories of the U. S., including nearly 3,600 on the mainland, have contracted the virus. Nearly two dozen babies have born with Ziika-induced birth defects like microcephaly.

Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), said they would try to move the money as fast as set government procedures would allow them. He added that much of the funding would be spent over the next 3 months.

A significant part of the money would be used to support studies like the one that is already underway in Colombia to track one thousand pregnant women and their babies.

Speaking on the topic, Frieden said, "There's a lot we still don't know about the long-term problems … The biggest unknown in terms of the epidemiology is what will become of the infants born to mothers who don't have microcephaly at birth."

The Zika virus spreads through infected animal bites or insect stings. One can also contract the virus by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an already infected person. There is currently no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease. Treatment instead focuses on relieving symptoms, rehydration and medications for fever, rashes and joint pain.