U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $199,583.00 in federal National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. Schumer recently visited the university to push for $1.9 billion in emergency federal funding to fight the epidemic. Schumer and Gillibrand said that this NSF funding will help SUNY Upstate’s efforts to treat, prevent and understand the Zika Virus. The university aims to provide results that will be relevant to the Zika public health emergency, and the researchers have set in place mechanisms to share final data and conclusions as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities.
“With so many women and families across Central New York looking for action, it is critical we find ways to treat, prevent and better understand Zika Virus – and fast. This is an emerging global health crisis and, when it comes to fighting this epidemic, a stitch in time will save nine. This desperately needed federal funding will allow the global health leaders at SUNY Upstate, who are ready to assist, look at ways we can stymie the spread of this tragic disease,” said Senator Schumer.
“The imminent threat of Zika to the United States is deeply troubling; this funding through the National Science Foundation would facilitate much needed resources to help advance SUNY Upstate Medical University’s research into how to prevent the spread of the Zika Virus,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am an original co-sponsor of legislation to provide an additional $1.9 billion federal investment in combatting the Zika virus. I will continue to push for this emergency funding to support efforts in accelerating the development of screening, treatment, and prevention methods in order to combat the future spread of the virus.”
Specifically, the project, entitled “RAPID: In-situ Zika-vector-climate dynamics in a high burden region in Ecuador,” will enable researchers to determine the prevalence of the Zika virus co-infections in humans and mosquitos, in addition to any climatic factors that could be affecting disease transmission. It will also look at ways in which other species of mosquitos might be able to transmit Zika. Ultimately, the study will look at the spread of Zika through a naive population and ways to control the spread of Zika in other locales, including the continental U.S.
Zika Virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person who has already been infected by the virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito species has spread most of the cases; these types of mosquitoes have been found in Florida and Hawaii. The Asian Tiger mosquito is also known to transmit the virus; these types of mosquitoes have been found in New York and Chicago. Thousands of infants in Brazil have already been born with microcephaly since last spring. More than 1,000 Americans have been infected with the Zika Virus, including about 100 pregnant women, in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and 3 U.S. Territories. In New York, there have been at least 89 confirmed travel-related cases.