Senator Collins Speaks from Senate Floor on Urgent Need to Address Zika Threat

“The Zika virus is an imminent and evolving public health threat that cannot wait; that cannot be ignored”

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ floor statement

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins spoke from the Senate floor today to urge her colleagues to support funding to address the emerging and evolving Zika virus, which poses a particular threat to pregnant women and can cause serious birth defects. 

“Americans are justifiably worried about the Zika virus, as the failure to prevent its spread could have devastating consequences for our families,” said Senator Collins from the Senate floor.  “In addition to its human and emotional toll, the Zika virus may ultimately cost the United States an astonishing sum of money when you consider that we already spend more than $2.6 billion per year on hospital stays related to birth defects… The Zika virus is an imminent and evolving public health threat that cannot wait; that cannot be ignored.”

Senator Collins recently toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and met with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.  During the visit, Senator Collins spoke with some of the nation’s leading experts in a variety of important fields of public health and learned more about the CDC’s plan to rapidly respond to the health threat posed by the Zika virus. 

“I was deeply impressed by the team of extraordinarily dedicated public servants who work [at the CDC],” Senator Collins continued.  “These scientists leverage an enormous range of knowledge to protect the American people, including through rapid response to infectious disease threats…The CDC has sounded the alarm in its warning about a Zika outbreak in our country.  It is essential that we devote sufficient financial resources to meet this new challenge.”

There are now more than one thousand cases of Zika virus in the United States and its three territories, including two laboratory-confirmed cases in Maine.  In addition to serious birth defects, the Zika virus has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder which can cause paralysis and even death.