Washington, D.C. - As the outbreak of mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and dengue continue to threaten communities in the United States and around the world, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined eight senators in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase funding for mosquito-control programs.
"Increased support for vector-control programs at the CDC can help to control the populations of Aedes mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, dengue, West Nile, and other arboviral diseases to humans and animals," the senators wrote. "In addition to the supplemental Zika request, we respectfully request at least a doubling of the vector-borne diseases line to at least $55 million, within the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."
In addition to Bennet, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) signed onto the letter.
In February, Bennet visited the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Division for Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) located in Fort Collins. During his visit, he toured the facility and received a briefing from researchers about their work to combat the Zika virus. Back in 2010, Bennet prevented funding cuts that would have virtually eliminated the vector-borne program that is largely run out of the Fort Collins facility. Earlier this week, there were reports that the facility needs Congress to pass additional funding to ensure it can continue its research.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
As you and your colleagues begin work on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies appropriations bill, we would like to thank you for your consideration of increased funding for vector-control programs through the administration's Zika supplemental request. As you know, increased support for vector-control programs at the CDC can help to control the populations of Aedes mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, dengue, West Nile, and other arboviral diseases to humans and animals. In addition to the supplemental Zika request, we respectfully request at least a doubling of the vector-borne diseases line to at least $55 million, within the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The NCEZID works to protect the United States and the world from emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, including diseases spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas; foodborne and waterborne illnesses; infections that spread in hospitals and/or are resistance to antibiotics; deadly diseases like Ebola and anthrax; and diseases caused by contact with animals.
CDC's FY 2017 budget request includes funding for vector-borne disease activities under NCEZID's Core Infectious Diseases budget request. The Core Infectious Diseases budget includes a number of CDC's infectious disease activities-such as vector-borne diseases, Lyme disease, emerging infections, and high-consequence pathogens-and also supports the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Grant Program, which strengthens surveillance for infectious diseases, early detection of newly emerging disease threats, and identification and response to outbreaks at the state and local levels.
CDC's vector-borne diseases program plays a critical role in the nation's capacity to detect, control, and prevent bacteria and viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. In addition to critical collaboration with and support of state and local health departments, CDC experts also conduct field investigations and intramural research to address risks to the United States from emerging and invasive pathogens anywhere in the world. The CDC serves as the national diagnostic reference center for vector-borne viral and bacterial diseases.
Funding for the vector-borne diseases line supports the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, with its main facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, and two branches in Atlanta (Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Dengue Branch). The work that all locations do supports efforts for domestic and global vector-borne disease control.
We know you have many difficult decisions to make, but we need to support critical public health infrastructure to prevent against devastating disease outbreaks. Thank you for your consideration of our request to at least double the vector-borne diseases line at NCEZID, to at least $55 million.