Connecticut to receive $580,000 grant for Zika virus

Connecticut will receive nearly $580,000 to protect state residents from the Zika virus.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state’s Congressional delegation announced Monday that the state Department of Public Health will get a $579,000 grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support and enhance the state’s efforts to protect residents from the virus and monitor serious birth defects, like microcephaly, and other adverse health outcomes that can be caused by the Zika virus.

“Here in Connecticut, we’ve actively been taking steps to prepare for Zika, including a coordinated, cross-functional response across agencies.  Preparation is critical, and this federal grant will be a big step forward in helping us reach our goals,” Malloy said in a statement issued Monday. “That being said, it is still very critical that Congress approve a federal Zika aid package as quickly as possible.  The members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation have been ardent supporters of a bipartisan agreement for additional federal funding, and the recent outbreaks in certain parts of the country should be a wake-up call that action is needed now.”

Malloy noted that the grant received today was reallocated by the CDC from other, previously existing health accounts.

“This welcome federal aid is only a fraction of the necessary action to stop a looming epidemic,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. “Congress should do its job and fully fund robust emergency aid without restrictions on women’s health care.  These federal dollars will help enable local tracking and monitoring of Zika cases and mosquito populations, but not development of a Zika vaccine or other effective protection and prevention efforts at the national level.  We commend the Governor and state officials for their ongoing efforts, and we remain committed to fighting for much-needed emergency funding.”

“This federal funding will greatly enhance our current Zika testing program at the State Laboratory, mosquito surveillance being conducted by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and will allow us to establish a monitoring program through DPH’s Birth Registry that will track infants born with Zika-related birth defects,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said.  “Thanks to the support and guidance from Gov. Malloy, who has made our Zika efforts a priority, we have a robust State Zika Virus Surveillance and Response Plan and this funding will be put to immediate use supporting the plan.”

A portion of this ELC funding will be used by DPH and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to continue implementation of the Laboratory testing and enhanced mosquito surveillance portions of the State Zika Virus Surveillance and Response Plan, which was designed based in part on past experiences addressing West Nile Virus in the state.   

In addition, ELC funding will be used to build on Connecticut’s existing Birth Defects Registry System to monitor for cases of microcephaly and other central nervous system defects that could be caused by Zika virus.  Funding will also be used to coordinate with the Birth to Three program and provide families with information on resources if they have child born with Zika-related birth defects, to disseminate prevention messages and materials to both providers and expecting parents, and to monitor health and developmental outcomes of children born to women with positive or inconclusive Zika virus test results.

As of July 27, DPH’s State Laboratory had tested 491 Connecticut patients for Zika virus, including 379 pregnant women. To date, 45 patients, including 3 pregnant women, have tested positive for Zika virus.  All of these patients contracted the virus as a result of travelling to Zika affected areas in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  Connecticut has not seen any local transmission of the disease, and DPH officials do not anticipate seeing local transmission via mosquitoes in the state this year.