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Bilirakis Questions Officials on Zika Virus Response

May 23, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – As the summer months heat up in Florida, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) renewed the call for an improved, coordinated approach to combating the Zika virus. A new study released today by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office evaluated the challenges faced by federal agencies in responding to the Zika virus outbreak.

During a key congressional hearing, Bilirakis questioned federal officials about how we can be better prepared to respond to the potential future spread of the virus, and the importance of increasing the level of research on the effects of Zika on children. Please see below for an excerpt from the hearing.

Bilirakis: “CDC established a Zika registry last year. What data is captured in this registry? How is this data being utilized?”

Dr. Lyle Petersen, Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): We gather data on evaluations that are done on the mother and fetus throughout pregnancy, and importantly also on the condition of the fetus and medical consequences of infection following birth. We hope to continue this work and to follow these infants born to mothers infected during pregnancy to determine what the full impact of the virus infection of the mother is on the fetus and that is still an open question.”

According to the CDC, 1,471 babies have been born while exposed to Zika.  64 of those babies have been born with known birth defects, but long-term impacts are still unknown.

Click HERE to read the full GAO report, and HERE for background on the hearing.