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Federal Funds Assigned to Fight Zika in Puerto Rico

By on October 31, 2016

SAN JUAN — About $39 million in federal funds have been allocated to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to fight the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi’s office announced Monday.

The effort was conducted through the U.S. Health Department’s Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and the $39 million in funds will be available for use throughout a three-year period.

According to the press release, these funds will be assigned to the centers operating in the U.S. territories to expand the availability of preventive and primary health services; meet immediate needs; anticipate healthcare needs in cases related to Zika; and allow health centers to expand their services in response to other urgent and emerging primary-care needs.

“There are more and more Zika cases on the island and it is necessary to expand services and assign funds to strengthen the fight against the virus and eradicate it. These $39 million will be specifically available for use over a three-year period by Health Centers eligible under the Health Centers Program of these territories. It is imperative to make good use of them so that these centers can provide better service,” Pierluisi stated.

Last week, Health Secretary Ana Ríus announced the first birth of a baby with microcephaly as a result of Zika. Ríus confirmed an additional 1,489 new cases of the virus on the island, for a total of 31,464 cumulative cases.

Health officials insist on the use of repellents, mosquito screens and clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible, as well as on eliminating mosquito-breeding sites, to help in the fight against the virus. Similarly, the use of condoms is recommended, especially pregnant women, to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. Although it may not present any symptoms, the most common ones associated with the virus are rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis without secretion.

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