NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–The fight against the zika virus has come to Connecticut. Senator Richard Blumenthal is issuing a call to action, saying more has to be done.
Saturday the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first U.S. death resulting from the Zika virus. A seventy year old man died from complications related to the virus. Now, Blumenthal says we need more money to help with prevention and efforts to find a vaccine.
So far there have been 683 confirmed cases of Zika in Puerto Rico, including 49 pregnant women. Sixteen people needed to be hospitalized and six of them developed Guillain Barre Syndrome, a condition that causes paralysis.
Zika has also been definitively linked to severe birth defects. President Obama has asked for 1.9 billion in funding to go towards the fight against Zika. Blumenthal says congress has failed to pass the request. Efforts last week went unresolved and this week congress is on break.
Blumenthal is also praising efforts here in Connecticut to develop a vaccine. Protein Sciences in Meriden has teamed up with an Argentinian pharmaceutical company to license and produce one. Blumenthal will visit Protein Sciences Monday to learn more about their progress and talk about how he hopes federal funding can assist them.
President Obama already moved 600 million in funds from money previously designated to fight Ebola. There is some hope senate republicans will succeed in getting a smaller Zika package attached to a current funding bill. But Blumenthal says we need bipartisan support to get the full amount needed to stop the spread of the virus.