Many of you have been following the news of the the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Just last week doctors confirmed that a baby had been born with Zika-linked microcephaly at the Hackensack University Medical Centre in New Jersey. Zika has the potential to cause a lot of illness and suffering in the United States. We know that those of us living in the Gulf Coast states, like my home state of Florida, where the tropical climate is hospitable to mosquitoes, are most likely to be impacted by Zika. But, this public health crisis can be controlled -- if we act now.
Unfortunately, many members of Congress have opposed allocating the $1.9 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration. This funding is needed right now -- as we head into mosquito season -- and is vital to ramping up surveillance efforts, controlling the mosquitoes spreading Zika, accelerating research into new vaccines and diagnostic tests and helping countries already battling the virus.
As doctors and medical students, we know all too well that the lives of our most vulnerable patients are at stake. I hope you will join me in speaking up to make our voices heard.
Here’s what you can do:
- CONTACT CONGRESS - This is the time to call or email your local representatives to let them know you are concerned about the spread of Zika. Use this activation page to demand Congress put patients over politics and approve the funding necessary to control this impending crisis.
- GET INFORMED - No local mosquito-borne Zika cases have been reported in the U.S., but there have been travel-associated cases. With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the US will likely increase. Use this site to get up to speed. And, watch this video from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to learn three ways patients can protect themselves and their families.
- INFORM YOUR PATIENTS - Put up this poster in your clinic or office. Urge patients to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites. And, talk with pregnant women about whether they or their male sex partners have recently traveled to an area with Zika.
- PEN AN OP-ED OR LTE- Write an opinion piece or letter to the editor urging your member of Congress to put patients over politics and provide the funds needed to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.