Target: House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce
Goal: Approve $1.8 billion in funding to support emergency efforts to fight the devastating Zika virus.
The Zika virus is relatively new to the Americas and is spread by the Aedes mosquito. Although there have been no reports of instances of transmission from the mosquito in the U.S., the virus can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus, and possibly through sexual contact. Because the Aedes mosquito is also found in the U.S., it is expected that there will be more reports of infection.
With mosquito populations expected to expand in the coming warmer months, it is urgent that we support our neighbors in Central and South America to control this disease outbreak. There’s currently no vaccine for this virus that causes illness to pregnant women and puts the fetus at high risk of severe birth defects. Emergency funding is needed to not only go towards mosquito control and transmission prevention, but to aid affected low-income communities with health care services.
Not only do about 1 in 5 infected people experience symptoms of illness when infected with the Zika virus, the consequences for babies born to infected mothers can be devastating. Microcephaly is a birth defect associated with the Zika virus that causes infants to be born with unusually small heads. Though the evidence is inconclusive, some health officials also suspect that the Zika virus is linked to the Guillain-Barré syndrome which can cause severe illness and nervous system damage.
With many countries in South America and Central America as well as the Caribbean experiencing widespread infection and dire health impacts, this emergency funding will be vital to researching the development of a vaccine, controlling transmission, and providing adequate health care to impacted communities.
By signing the petition below you will help urge House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and the U.S. Congress to approve President Obama’s request for $1.8 billion in necessary emergency funding to fight this very serious health threat to the Americas.
Dear Chairman Royce and U.S. Congress,
The spread of infection of the Zika virus is expected to expand throughout the Americas at even greater rates during the coming spring and summer months. Not only has this disease caused widespread illness and devastating birth defects in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, reports of infection are expected to accelerate in the U.S.
There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus. Not only is this disease new to the Western Hemisphere, officials do not yet fully understand its epidemiology. This emergency funding requested by President Obama will help expand mosquito control programs, work towards the development of a vaccine, and provide essential education and treatment to pregnant women and infected people in an estimated 26 countries and territories.
I strongly urge you to approve this request for funding, and in so doing permit the U.S. Department of State to work with the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health organization to stop the spread of this virus and its debilitating effects.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: WHO