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Puerto Rico House committee asks US Congress to create infectious diseases research center

By on November 13, 2017

Health Committee. (Limarys Suárez / CB)

SAN JUAN – The chairman of the Puerto Rico House Tourism and Social Welfare Committee, Rep. Néstor Alonso Vega, has asked the U.S. Congress to legislate with the objective that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) establish an Infectious Disease Research Center in Puerto Rico with the collaboration of the Health Department and the medical schools on the island.

The initiative seeks to create an alliance between the federal and state governments to work on cases related to outbreaks after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami.

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“It is important to point out that many times, due to the occurrence of natural disasters, in the post-impact phase is when more people die due to infectious diseases. Examples of diseases that may appear in this phase are cholera, leptospirosis, bacterial diarrhea, salmonella, hepatitis A and E, influenza and many more, and in Puerto Rico, several cases of leptospirosis have already been confirmed and some cases of cholera are rumored. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika outbreaks should not be ruled out due to the proliferation of mosquitoes, which is why we need something to help users identify resources to fight these outbreaks,” Alonso Vega said in a press release.

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The lawmaker said that establishing a research center would provide the island with the ability to quickly identify any future outbreaks and assign the funds needed to address the situation.

“The time has come to invest in research related to infectious diseases, without ruling out, in addition, a real possibility of economic development that may be derived from this activity. The time is right for Congress to legislate on this issue, in light of the devastation caused by María and the expressions of many members of Congress related to the issue,” he added.

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Alonso Vega said he will communicate with several congressional leaders, as well as with the resident commissioner in Washington, D.C., Jenniffer González, to push the initiative during the current session.

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