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Committee Leaders Press HHS on Zika Response, Insufficient Diagnostic Testing

Mar 29, 2016
Following #SubOversight Hearing, Upton and Murphy Request Additional Information on Administration’s Emergency Supplemental Appropriation Request

WASHINGTON, DC – Following up on questions raised on the Zika virus during a recent hearing, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) this week sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding U.S. public health preparedness and response.

“The current status of diagnostic testing for Zika is alarming. The most widespread of the tests—which measures the presence of the virus in the blood—only works if administered within five to seven days of the onset of symptoms,” write Upton and Murphy. “Given that nearly 80 percent of individuals infected with Zika appear to be asymptomatic, this test is insufficient for most people who will become infected with Zika.”

While addressing the limitations of the other tests available, the leaders continued, “Given the current state of the diagnostic tests for Zika, we are concerned that the United States lacks the capacity to test all pregnant women that travel to or live in areas with local Zika virus transmission.”

Upton and Murphy also request additional details surrounding the administration’s pursuit of an emergency supplemental appropriation to respond to the Zika virus. The leaders are seeking written responses to their questions as well as a detailed briefing from HHS regarding the administration’s emergency supplemental request by April 12, 2016.

To read the full letter, click here.