The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the U.S. Government’s lead for efforts to respond to the Zika virus. As the White House announced on Monday, the President is also seeking more than $1.8 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to address the virus and our government’s response efforts.
As part of the overall federal response, and in close coordination with HHS and CDC, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is doing the following:
Continued monitoring at and between ports of entry: As part of standard operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel observe all travelers entering the United States for general overt signs of illness at all U.S. ports of entry. This includes all federal inspection services areas at U.S. airports that service international flights, sea ports, and land border ports of entry. CBP officers also observe migrants for overt signs of illness when they are apprehended at U.S. borders while attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
Based on our current understanding of the virus, enhanced public health entry screening for Zika would not be effective because most people who are infected with Zika are asymptomatic and therefore could not beentified during the screening process. Accordingly, CDC is not conducting, or recommending that CBP conduct, enhanced entry screening for Zika, such as active symptom monitoring and temperature checks at ports of entry for arriving travelers. CDC and CBP will continue to coordinate on appropriate measures.
Close coordination with HHS and CDC. If a traveler entering the United States exhibits signs of illness or a CBP officer has another concern, the traveler is referred to a secondary CBP inspection and may potentially be referred to CDC for additional medical evaluation. Migrants who exhibit signs of illness when apprehended by CBP attempting to cross the border illegally are separated from healthy people to limit the potential spread of infection. Sick migrants are referred, transported, and escorted for appropriate medical attention as needed.
Enhanced precautions at detention facilities. We are deploying mosquito control measures at facilities housing individuals in DHS custody in the limited areas of the country where mosquitoes have transmitted the virus. Preparations are also underway in areas where mosquitoes of the same type are present, but where transmission is not known to have occurred. In addition, pregnant women in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody who originate from areas determined by CDC to have high incidence of Zika virus will be screened for symptoms of Zika virus by ICE medical providers, receive blood testing for Zika virus based on CDC guidance, and be provided prenatal care while in custody.
Workforce education. We have issued advisories to inform the DHS workforce about the virus and the risks associated with it, and are ensuring appropriate protective measures such as mosquito abatement are in place for DHS employees in affected areas in line with CDC guidance.
We are closely monitoring the Zika virus and its impact, and as we continue to learn more about the virus, the Department’s actions and communications with the public and DHS workforce will continue to evolve in line with the overall Federal response.
For more information on the Zika virus, what the Federal government is doing to respond, and how Americans can protect themselves, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika.