Washington, DC (January 28, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Africa and Global Health subcommittee, today sent letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and World Health Organization (WHO) asking how each is preparing to deal with the ever-growing spread of the Zika virus. The Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted infection that has been linked to a severe birth defect know as microcephaly, is spreading rapidly through South and Central America. The World Health Organization has predicted the virus would spread to nearly all countries across the Americas. Hawaii, Florida, Illinois and Texas have all now reported infected individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel warning for the affected areas with active Zika transmissions. There is currently no known treatment for the Zika virus.
“In light of the abundance of U.S. travelers who are expected to attend the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer, the frequency with which U.S. travelers visit South and Central American and the Caribbean, and with officials reporting in November that mosquitoes in Mexico have been infected with the virus and have spread it to people, this is clearly an urgent issue for our government,” writes Senator Markey in the letter to HHS.