Money shuffle in response to Zika virus will sting MN Health Department


The national response to the Zika virus means the U.S. is sharing less money with state health departments, including Minnesota's.

The Minnesota Department of Health faces a loss of funding for next year that will amount to seven percent of its budget, KSTP reports.

Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger tells the station that will amount to $800,000, adding "That's going to have an impact around the state on all of our emergency preparations."

As the Washington Post reported last week, states across the country face similar budget cuts as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rearranges its spending. The Post says Minnesota plans to reduce its stockpiles of medications used to treat first responders during an emergency.

The Obama administration blames the need for state cuts on Congress' refusal to approve a $1.9 billion emergency request to fight the Zika virus, the Post reports.

Zika virus mosquito an occasional visitor to Minnesota

The Zika virus, which is linked to severe birth defects is primarily spread by mosquitoes. The most serious outbreaks have been in Central and South America. One Minnesota traveler was confirmed to have returned with the virus.

The CDC recently discovered that not one, but two types of mosquitoes carry the Zika virus. The revelation that a species called Aedes albopictus – nicknamed the Asian Tiger – also spreads the virus expanded the range of states where Zika might be transmitted as far north as Minnesota, the CDC said.

This week officials with Minnesota's Health Department clarified that while albopictus mosquitoes have been found in the state, they do not breed here because their eggs cannot survive the winters.

Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz told KARE 11: "The species has been found in one or two locations in southern Minnesota in used tires imported from overseas, but we've not had more than a few clusters and they have been quickly eradicated when found."

There's much more information about Zika virus on the CDC website.

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