Mar 24, 2017 by

Friday, March 24, 2017

Zika in 30 Seconds
Have 30 seconds? Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus.

What’s new this week

  • The CDC this week reported an additional 7 US babies born with Zika-related birth defects, bringing the total to 54 (CDC)
  • Harris County, Tex., home to Houston, is considering releasing sterile genetically-modified mosquitoes to reduce the insects’ numbers. A similar proposal in the Florida Keys is on hold while residents debate it (CBS)
  • An improved genetic technique has pieced together the genome sequence of the mosquito that transmits Zika, Aedes aegypti, 10 years after publication of its draft sequence (Nature)

Budget concerns

President Trump’s budget released last week contained a provision that would eliminate one-eighth of the CDC’s budget. But in addition to that, there’s a more specific provision that would threaten Zika funding directly, points out Ed Yong at the Atlantic: A halving of the budget for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program. That program helps state public health laboratories train their staff and buy equipment; these labs are in many cases the ones running blood tests for Zika. When, for instance, Congress failed for months to fund a Zika response last year, Minnesota’s public health laboratory used ELC funds to begin its public testing. With half as much funding, researchers say, being prepared for the next public health threat will be much harder.

Today’s must-read

  • In pausing human research on Zika, medical ethicists acknowledge a dark past (WBUR)

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