Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced Dec. 16 that the Hawaii Department of Health will receive $1.1 million in federal funding to combat the Zika virus.
The funding, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will go toward additional lab testing capacity and a selection of education and vector control initiatives.
"Hawaii needs to be vigilant against the continued threat posed by Zika, and this funding increases the Hawaii Department of Health's capacity to prevent and respond to a potential Zika outbreak," Hirono said in a statement announcing the funding.
Zika is not currently circulating in Hawaii, and there have been no locally acquired cases, according to the Hawaii department of health. All cases of Zika identified in Hawaii have occurred in people who were infected while traveling outside of Hawaii. However, the species of mosquitoes that transmit Zika, the Aedes mosquito (which can also carry dengue and chikungunya), is found in Hawaii.
The grants were funded through emergency supplemental funding Congress approved in September.
"These funds will allow us to support and enhance key Zika-related department programs to safeguard our state's public health in the long run. In addition to building a greater capacity for disease investigation and laboratory testing, we'll also be better able to support the mothers and babies who have been impacted by the effects of Zika," Sarah Park, Hawaii state epidemiologist, said in a statement.
The CDC funding to Hawaii will go toward three major programs. The first, costing nearly $1 million, will boost laboratory resources in the state to provide testing and monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants. Another initiative will target specific communities at high risk of Zika outbreak, and strengthen rapid-response systems. The third program establishes processes for quickly detecting microcephaly -- a serious birth defect directly linked to Zika -- and other adverse conditions possibly related to the Zika virus infection during pregnancy.