On January 27, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that they have been asked to support the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in their efforts related to the Zika virus. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the DoD experts have been asked to help gather other experts and stakeholders to aid in HHS research, saying that DoD has experience in this area.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus spreads to people primarily through mosquito bites, and while the illness usually is mild, there have been reports that the virus can lead to “poor pregnancy outcomes” in pregnant women. There have been several travel-related cases of Zika reported in the U.S., and the virus has been spreading in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
Experts briefed President Obama on the potential spread of the virus, travel advisories, guidance for domestic health care providers who care for pregnant women, and other potential economic and developmental impacts of the virus.
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Defense Department Experts to Support HHS with Zika Virus Research, DoD News