ASM Urges Congressional Action on Emergency Zika Funding


The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1702

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4901

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2803

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
233 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0512


Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is again writing to urge Congress to provide emergency funding to combat the threat of the Zika virus. It is extremely disappointing that Congress has adjourned for the summer recess without passing a Zika funding bill, leaving the public at risk at the peak of the mosquito season. As of mid-July, there are already more than 1,300 known cases of Zika infection within the continental US and more than 2,900 in US territories. 

The ASM, which represents over 47,000 members in the United States and worldwide, is greatly concerned that congressional inaction against this emerging infectious threat will have serious consequences for US public health.  Most troubling is the link between infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy and severe birth deformities, including microcephaly. It is past time to aggressively move against this mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted pathogen and its further spread throughout all US states and territories.

Additional federal resources approved by Congress are urgently needed for agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  This emergency Zika funding is essential to expand state and local prevention and mosquito control efforts, improve diagnostics and testing, develop an effective vaccine, and boost basic and applied research on this deadly virus. Research by multiple stakeholders like CDC, NIH and academic health centers has already revealed a great deal about the Zika virus, its transmission and its public health impacts. The ASM urges Congress to provide the new funds necessary to build upon this knowledge and halt the spread of Zika infection.

Private-public and intergovernmental partnerships are being mobilized against Zika’s spread here and abroad. It is clear that collaborations among all stakeholders in public health will mount the most effective offense against highly mobile pathogens like the Zika virus. We urge Congress and the Administration to similarly work together to solve the current legislative impasse on emergency funding to combat Zika. It is crucial that everyone concerned about the well being of the American public work together against this infectious threat. The health of all Americans is at stake.

Sincerely,

Susan Sharp, Ph.D.
President, American Society for Microbiology

Stefano Bertuzzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.
CEO, American Society for Microbiology

Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D.
Chair, ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board