Can Texas Tame Zika?
With federal funding to combat the Zika virus pending in Congress, officials at the 11th annual Border Health Conference met on Capitol Hill to discuss software used to fight the disease and other health issues in the region.
Dr. Katrin Kohl of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned an app in her remarks that was just released on Android and is due to appear on the iPhone in the next three weeks.
Developed in collaboration with the University of Arizona and named Kidenga, the program allows users to check for dangerous mosquito alerts where they live and look up Zika symptoms.
Though the app contains information that helps people deal with the virus, it is only effective if a lot of people use it. Kohl said she believed a bigger budget would encourage development and use.
“With more funding we would be able to hire developers to make ongoing improvements and we would love to be able to broadly advertise it. Because it’s only as good as the number of people who use it,” Kohl said.
Hidalgo County Health director Eddie Olivarez talked about challenges other than Zika that he faces in his part of the state.
“Zika is important, but anti-immunization is a real problem. It would be devastating if this continued and immunization went away,” Olivarez said.
But the Hidalgo HHS Chief agreed Zika is also a threat and could be worse if there is no Congressional action.
“Mosquito borne illness is very common in South Texas….lack of funding has not deterred us and we are not waiting for it….we will welcome any type of funding that we can get though,” Olivarez said.
According to the CDC, more than 600 women have been diagnosed with Zika nationwide. Of those, 192 are in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
In recent months Zika:
- Has infected only three people in Cuba (Associated Press)
- Hit the United States in July, 2016 (CNN)
- Been a boom for condom makers (Fortune)
- And caused frustration in Congress (NBC)