NORWALK, Conn. -- U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said it's time for Congress to act and approve funding to combat the Zika virus.
"We can't beat back the Zika virus without emergency federal funding," Murphy said Friday at Norwalk Hospital. "It's time for congress to stop playing politics on this issue and get Connecticut the money it needs."
Norwalk Hospital is part of the Western Connecticut Health Network along with Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital. The Zika virus has rapidly spread in South American, Central American and Caribbean countries. It can be passed from a pregnant woman to a fetus and can cause severe birth defects. It is spread by mosquitoes.
Three women from the state have contracted the virus already while traveling, he said. And with mosquitoes back in season, he pleaded for Congress to move quickly.
"The epidemic is real and it is just unconscionable that Congress hasn't allocated the funding. The Senate came together on a compromise, $1.1 billion, but the House of Representatives undid that compromise and added to the bill all sorts of political poison pills like stripping funding from Planned Parenthood."
A poison pill is when opponents of a bill add an amendment that the bill's supporters can't support in hopes that the bill is withdrawn.
Murphy was joined U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, state Sen. Bob Duff, and Dr. Majid Sadigh, director of the Global Health Program at Western Connecticut Health Network.
Sadigh recently visited the Dominican Republic and said awareness of the Zika virus and the threats it poses is high in the Caribbean country. He said Connecticut is home to many immigrant communities from the affected countries and he expects to see a spike in infected people.
"Many of them travel back and forth to their home countries, and I would assume we would see a growing number of the patients with Zika," Sadigh said. However, he said that he doesn't expect to see a similar jump in cases for people who live here and don't travel to affected areas.
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