CDC Activates Highest Emergency Operations Level Due to Zika Virus
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is moving to Level 1 activation, the highest level of response. To date there have been three Level 1 responses: Ebola (2014), H1N1 (2009) and Hurricane Katrina (2005). The agency says the move reflects the need for an accelerated preparedness in anticipation of the Zika virus’ transmission by mosquitoes in the U.S.
The EOC brings together CDC scientists with other experts in areas like reproductive health and birth and developmental defects. It serves as the CDC’s command center for monitoring and coordinating the emergency response to Zika, deploying CDC staff and managing all equipment and supplies needed during the outbreak. The EOC is currently home to more than 300 CDC staff working with local, national and international partners.
Experts say the Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of a specific mosquito present in many tropical and subtropical environments, but it can also be spread through sexual transmission. About 20 percent of people infected with the virus become ill. The symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Scientists are also studying the suggested link between the Zika virus and a birth defect known as Microcephaly.
President Barack Obama is in the process of asking Congress for more than $1.8 Billion dollars in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. The funds would be used to build ongoing preparedness efforts, including expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research and educating health care providers and pregnant women.