More than $85 milion in federal funding will be made available to help states combat the spread of the Zika virus.
As of May 11, more than 500 Zika cases have been reported in the U.S., with more than 1,200 cases throughout the country and its territories since January 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency is allocating $25 million to the hardest-hit regions. Funding will go to areas where Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the two types of mosquitoes known to carry and transmit the virus, are most prevalent. The money will help state health officials identify, investigate and respond to any possible outbreaks.
Applications are due by June 13 and will be available through July 17.
The latest funding is on top of $60 million allocated this year to help city and state laboratories improve their ability to track and monitor the spread of the disease, as well as maintain the safety of their blood supplies. Applicants have until May 27 to submit those funding requests. That money will be distributed this summer.
"These funds will allow states and territories to continue implementation of their Zika preparedness plans, but are not enough to support a comprehensive Zika response and can only temporarily address what is needed,” Dr. Stephen Redd, director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said in a written statement. "Without the full amount of requested emergency supplemental funding, many activities that need to start now are being delayed or may have to be stopped within months.”
Few places in the U.S. and its territories have been hit harder by the virus than Puerto Rico, where health officials announced last week the first confirmed case of microcephaly in a fetus linked to the virus. Last month, the territory recorded the first Zika-related U.S. death in a 70-year-old man.
Zika has been linked to the onset of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. The disease is also associated with a rise in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack the nervous system, causing paralysis.
Congress also appears ready to act on President Barack Obama's long-stalled $1.9 billion request for emergency funds to combat Zika.
House Republicans Monday released legislation to provide $622 million; the Senate is likely to endorse a $1.1 billion measure on Tuesday.