Tennessee lawmaker concerned about funds to fight Zika - WSMV News 4

Tennessee lawmaker concerned about funds to fight Zika

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It appears Zika-infected mosquitoes have arrived in the United States, but the money to eliminate them has not.

Four people in Florida have tested positive for Zika. None of them have traveled, leading officials to believe mosquitoes in the U.S. are carrying the virus.

There are more than 1,600 confirmed cases in the continental U.S., including 17 people in Tennessee who are infected.

"I'm almost certain that we're going to see more. The critical issue is, ‘How do you respond to that?’” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Tennessee lawmakers started preparing back in April.

“This is an emerging threat, an emerging issue."

Back in April, Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, pushed a bill that would set aside $1 million from the state budget to battle Zika, but his efforts fell short.

Those who voted to table the bill said federal funding would take care of Zika.

“Well guess what? Congress didn't take action, and now our state is not going to have adequate resources if we have a major outbreak or if the Zika virus continues to grow,” Powell said.

Powell worries Tennessee may not be ready for an outbreak.

“I think we are going to see more cases and more outbreaks across the South. Obviously Tennessee is a very hot climate. We have a lot of mosquitoes,” Powell said.

The new budget year began July 1. That means a bill like this can't be introduced again until next year.

Powell said by then, the U.S. could be dealing with a much larger spread.

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