EMPORIA (KSNT) – The Zika Virus is back in national headlines after a rise in cases being reported in southern Florida and New York.
But local health officials say things are okay in Kansas right now.
“It’s never a time to panic,” Diana Moore, with the Flinthills Community Health Center, said.
A map released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Kansas has eight reported cases of Zika. None of them have been contracted locally. The map shows the eight cases reported in the state put it in the second lowest category of cases.
States like New York and Florida have reported thousands of cases over the summer months.
Despite the low number and that none of the cases in Kansas have been contracted locally, Moore said her health center is staying proactive.
“We do have the ability to test,” she said. “We can do that through the (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) and we can do that through a private company as well.”
But, Moore says funds that are being debated by Congress could go a long way for educating Kansans.
And the Flinthills Community Health Center isn’t the only organization in the state that would benefit from federal monies.
“Everything depends on funding for sure,” said Stephen Higgs, the director of the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University. “We’ve been using some of our own funds from departmental sources.”
Higgs and his team are focused on getting a vaccine for the Zika Virus ready to use and money from the government would help ensure that happens.
“Well, we just kind of think this is so important,” he said. “And we have some unique capabilities that it’s the right thing to do.”
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, told KSNT News she wants to see a resolution as well.
“It is clear that the threat from Zika is only growing – that is what makes the Democrats blockage of the Senate legislation even more frustrating. The bipartisan legislation passed by the House would not only fight Zika, but also included money for insecticide that would target mosquitos who are at the root of the problem,” she said in a statement to KSNT News. “Yet, instead of supporting it or working to amend the bill, Senate Democrats insist on simply blocking it and playing politics with the health and safety of American mothers and their babies. We need swift action and it is up to Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats to abandon their bizarre stunts in favor of effective policy. I urge the Democrats to rethink their position, urgently, for the sake of American mothers everywhere.”
Several federal lawmakers including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, have called for Congress to come back for a special session in order to approve funds needed to make progress on a vaccine.
Schumer and Rubio’s states have been hit the hardest by the virus in recent weeks.