The White House is asking Congress for $1.8 billion (£1.24bn) to combat the Zika virus, both within the United States and abroad. This request is a heartening sign that the Obama administration is taking Zika seriously — but not a sign that the US is bracing itself for a local mass outbreak.
Reuters reports the new funding request, which still needs Congressional approval. Since Zika is transmitted most frequently by Aedes aegypti, a mosquito found in tropical climates, much of the money will go to mosquito control programs:
The funding would be split between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for International Development and the State Department to support mosquito control programs, vaccine research and health services for low-income pregnant women, the White House said in a statement.
Zika is a global emergency, but the US hasn’t really been affected. Though one case of sexually transmitted Zika cropped up in Texas, there have not been any reports of mosquito-borne transmissions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that Zika will show up in the US, but cautioned nervous Americans not to freak out about mass outbreaks. Mosquito density isn’t as bad in the US as it is in South and Central America, and the US has more aggressive mosquito control. [Reuters]