HHS Awards Additional $6 Million to Help States and Cities Fight West Nile Virus
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will award over $6 million to 14 states and two cities hit hardest by the West Nile virus, and the federal government continues to provide technical and scientific support to states and communities in need of assistance.
The $6 million is part of the $14 million that was made available to states earlier this month to help them strengthen their efforts to combat the virus and is to be available immediately.
CDC will ensure its expertise, technical support, and other pertinent resources are fully available to states as they deal with the spread of the virus. The CDC has deployed 20 epidemiologists and other clinicians to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
"We are joined with state and local health departments in this battle against the West Nile virus," Secretary Thompson said. "These funds will assist states and cities with programs that monitor the spread of West Nile virus and improve their capability to protect their citizens."
This money brings total CDC funding to states and cities for West Nile virus so far this year to more than $31 million. CDC has provided approximately $54 million to states, cities, and territories since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.
"West Nile virus is rapidly emerging this summer in previously unaffected areas and human illness is occurring earlier than in previous years, we wanted funds immediately available to support the public health community as it works to combat the impact of the virus," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director. These funds are intended for activities deemed the highest priority by states to help control and prevent human disease from West Nile virus.
West Nile virus activity has been reported in 41 states and the District of Columbia. As of August 28, 480 human cases of West Nile virus, with 24 deaths, reported in 10 states. Eight deaths from West Nile have been reported in Louisiana, four in Illinois, three in Mississippi, two each in Georgia and Ohio, and one each in Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Texas.
Earlier this month, CDC awarded $3.4 million to Louisiana, $1.3 million to Texas, and $300,000 to Mississippi. These additional awards will go to Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin and the cities of Chicago and Houston.
Additionally, the following cities and states are eligible to apply for grants: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New York City, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In addition to providing financial assistance and sending experts to communities, CDC maintains its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to monitor the disease and to provide around-the-clock assistance and consultation with state and local health officials.
HHS' programs are part of the federal government's multi-department effort to combat the West Nile virus. The Interagency West Nile Virus working group -- made up of HHS, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Commerce -- has been charged by Secretary Thompson to assure that the there is a coordinated federal response to emergencies related to mosquito-transmitted diseases.
The working group also is working to share information, enhance surveillance, identify gaps in current federal approaches to these diseases and develop methods to support state and local mosquito-control programs in the United States.
Additionally, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) Veterinary Services program investigates suspect cases of neurologic illness in equines and tests them for West Nile virus infection. APHIS' Wildlife Services program also plays an integral role in statewide West Nile virus surveillance efforts, by working on behalf of several state health departments.
Since the detection of the virus in the United States, APHIS worked to facilitate the development of an equine vaccine. Last summer, APHIS granted a conditional license for a West Nile virus vaccine to Fort Dodge Animal Health, and more than 3 million doses have been distributed nationwide for equine use.
FEMA also continues to consult with and provide guidance to federal, state and local partners to assess the public health threat, monitor new developments and identify resources within federal agencies to slow the spread of the West Nile Virus.
CDC is operating its public hotlines for questions about West Nile virus. The English number is 1-888-246-2675; the Spanish hotline is 1-888-246-2857, and the number for the hearing-impaired hotline is 1-866-874-2646.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at www.hhs.gov/news.
Additional West Nile Funding Amounts to States/Cities
North Dakota $395,182
South Dakota $201,594
TOTAL AWARDED $6,368,401
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