This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The threat of Zika virus is becoming increasingly dangerous. Since 2015, more than 10,000 cases of Zika virus have been found in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The second community with local transmission in Florida is confirmed. Over 100,000 U.S. citizens just returned from summer Olympics in Rio. The virus has the potential to spread even farther and faster around the nation.

The most serious health concern with Zika is the effect in pregnant women. A person infected with Zika can pass the virus to a fetus. The virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies have smaller-than-average heads, developmental problems and other severe birth defects.

Scientists are doing their best to develop a vaccine despite lack of action from Congress. Researchers report funding vaccine development by taking resources from other important public health activities.

It is critical to fund Zika prevention and research to combat widespread transmission of the virus. Congress had the opportunity before the summer recess to fund a Zika response, yet failed to do so. Inaction will jeopardize the health of Utahns and millions of Americans. It's time for Congress to provide resources to fight the spread of Zika without harming other critical public health programs.

Dr. Teresa Garrett

Salt Lake City

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