Millions granted to eradicate Zika in Florida

first_imgJackeline, 26, holds her son who is 4-months old and born with microcephaly, in front of their house in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, February 11, 2016. Recent laboratory analyses identified Zika virus infections in three people who died in Brazil last year, the health ministry said on Thursday, although authorities could not confirm that Zika alone was responsible for their deaths. REUTERS/Nacho Doce TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX26KIR Adhering to the state commitment to eradicate Zika virus from Florida, Governor Rick Scott announced $25 million in grants for further research into the mosquito borne virus, and the development of a vaccine to counter the disease.Making the announcement on Wednesday, Scott indicated the funding is being broken down into 34 grants being made to 10 Florida universities and research institutions.The largest grant of $13 million is being awarded to the University of Miami to develop Zika testing methodology, a Zika vaccine development, and research the effect that the virus has on pregnant women and their babies.Last year a rash of locally contracted mosquito-borne Zika virus cases broke out in Miami-Dade County mainly in the Wynwood community, and on Miami Beach. The break out of the disease resulted in the Florida Department of Health (FDH) and the Centers for Disease (CDC) declaring the respective regions Zika contamination zones. The declarations were accompanied by nationwide warnings, especially to pregnant women, cautioning travel to these areas.Months later, Governor Scott and the FDH lifted the restrictions as for weeks there were no new cases. However, the FDH and CDC cautioned South Floridians to remain alert against new local contaminated cases especially when the rainy season arrives. Governor Scott also gave assurances the state would provide the necessary funding to treat and eliminate the virus.Referring to the new grants, Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida Surgeon General said the state cannot afford to relax its efforts to fight the Zika virus during the current dry season when mosquitoes are not prevalent.The grant to the UM goes directly to the infectious diseases division at UM’s Miller School of Medicine.The head of the division, Mario Stevenson regard the grants as a “big deal” and an asset in funding Zika related studies being hindered by funding challenges. He said together with developing cures for the virus, the division will be able to better focus on why the diseases is specifically impactful to pregnant women and their babies.Other recipients of state grant funding include Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Florida State universities, the Moffitt Cancer Center and Scripps Research Institute.The 2017/18 budget proposed by Governor Scott also includes $2.9 billion to be allocated to the FDH to employ more scientists and conduct further research into the Zika virus.last_img

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