Despite large-scale federal funding, Indiana working behind-the-scenes to prevent Zika virus outbreak

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INDIANAPOLIS – A  poll released this week shows a majority of Americans don’t believe the federal government is prepared for a wide-scale outbreak of the Zika virus.

The CBS News poll, conducted between August 10-14, shows 64 percent of Americans are both somewhat concerned about a large outbreak and at the same time don’t feel the government is fully prepared.

In Indiana, efforts are underway to prevent an outbreak.

The Indiana State Department of Health will receive $3.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to in part help fight Zika.

“Our biggest concern is that pregnant women who have had exposure be tested,” Jennifer Brown said, the state public health veterinarian. “Even though the risk of local transmission is low, we still need to have the infrastructure in place to detect cases of microcephaly.”

State health officials said at least 300 Hoosiers have been tested for Zika, all who had been deemed high-risk at the time. Of those, 27 have tested positive for the virus.

All those cases, though, had been contracted by mosquitoes from outside the United States.

Click here for Zika resources from the Indiana State Department of Health. 

Part of the federal money will be used to continue testing, which currently is free to residents at public health labs for high-risk people, as well as increased monitoring of mosquitoes for numerous viruses  and technology to detect microcephaly and other birth defects.

“Our goal for using this funding is to use it to be ready not just for Zika virus,and not just it’s possible impact on Indiana residents, but also for all mosquito born viruses,” Brown said.

Congress has failed to pass a $1.1 billion proposal to help fight the virus.

“There’s currently no vaccine, no treatment, no good diagnostic testing,” Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) recently said when surveying Hamilton County’s efforts. “So we know we have a long way to go to finding those cures and treatment.”

The measure, which failed before the summer break, ended in a stalemate after both Democrats and Republicans accused each other playing politics.

“Congress needs to act quickly in a bipartisan manner to address this, and we need to be investing in the long-term research to combat and prevent the spread of Zika,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said in a statement. “I remain ready to work with any of my colleagues – Republican or Democrat – to effectively address this virus.”

The stalemate has left states to rely on a much smaller pool of money.

“The risk of local transmission by mosquitoes here in Indiana is low, but that doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily continue to see cases of the infection in people who have traveled out of state,” Brown said. “And it doesn’t mean we won’t see cases of microcephaly in pregnant women who have acquired the infection out of state.”