A key Missouri lawmaker worries about a “pending disaster” involving the Zika virus in the state. Representative Marsha Haefner (R-Oakville) chairs the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services.
“I would say probably when, not if, it makes its way to Missouri, not only will it have tragic results for infants, but this could be a huge cost to the state,” says Haefner.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Division Director Harold Kirbey it’s developing a state plan to help prevent and assist those dealing with the Zika virus.
“We’ve worked really hard especially with our local partners to put this plan in place, and actually I believe we submitted the rule to add Zika to our reportable conditions. It’s not been there before, it was kind of alluded to and it says novel viruses should be reported,” says Kirbey.
He says the Department has contracted with Missouri State University to collect mosquitoes in the Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis areas.
“It starts in Kansas City, goes down and comes back up in St. Louis is what we’ve surveyed so far, and also working with Columbia/Boone County too to get some samples there. So far, we have not found any of the aedes aegypti, the one that they’re most concerned about,” says Kirbey.
DHSS says there have been 29 cases found in Missouri from people who have traveled to countries where the virus is actively spreading.
Zika is transmitted sexually and by infected mosquitoes. Some mothers who had Zika while pregnant have also given birth to babies with serious brain birth defects.