WASHINGTON, DC – Less than a week after Tropical Storm Colin swept across Florida, stoking new fears that the standing water left in its wake will soon become a breeding ground for mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today filed legislation to bolster local mosquito-control efforts to better combat these insects.
The legislation Nelson filed along with Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Richard Burr (R-NC) would authorize an additional $130 million per year in grant funding to local mosquito-control boards working to eliminate the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes responsible for spreading the Zika virus. It would also authorize additional funding to public health laboratories so they can better test for the virus and would require the Government Accountability Office to study and recommend ways to improve existing mosquito-control programs.
“Until we find a cure, the best way to curb the spread of this virus is to eliminate the insects known to carry it,” Nelson said. “As we head into these warmer summer months, Florida’s mosquito population is going to rise, and we need to make sure local mosquito-control units have the resources they need to protect their communities.”
Nelson has been a vocal proponent of increasing efforts to curb the spread of the virus. In February, Nelson was the first federal lawmaker to call on President Obama to appoint a Zika czar to coordinate the federal government’s overall response. He later filed legislation – which Congress approved and the president signed into law in April – to add the Zika virus to the FDA’s Tropical Disease Priority Review list, creating an incentive for drug makers to accelerate their search for a cure. Nelson is also the lead sponsor of legislation to fully fund the president’s request for $1.9 billion to stop the spread of the virus.
With more than 1,700 cases of the virus now reported in the United States, no state has been hit harder than Florida. Just yesterday, in fact, the Florida Department of Health reported another new case of the virus in Orange County, bringing the state’s total to 172.
The legislation Nelson filed today now heads to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee for consideration.
The text of the bill is available here.