Chicago, Ill., September 12, 2016
With the U.S. in the midst of mosquito season nationwide, the Zika virus is affecting the lives of children and adults all across the country. Easterseals (formerly Easter Seals), the indispensable resource for people facing today’s disabilities, urges Congress to deliver emergency funding to combat the spread of the Zika virus and care for Zika-affected individuals and families. Easterseals, along with numerous federal, state and community health organizations, are working to educate and care for our communities, but current federal financial resources are grossly inadequate to effectively prevent and manage the effects of this virus.
Easterseals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 100 years. As the premier provider of early intervention services to young children and their families, Easterseals is ready today to assist babies affected by Zika, specifically those in the more at-risk U.S. regions (Fla., La. and Texas). Easterseals knows it is imperative to connect these families to developmental services as soon as possible. These services will help a family gain the skills they need to care for their child as well as to provide a child with physical or speech therapy or other services that ensure the child’s health and well-being.
“The number of people testing positive for this virus continues to rise. More babies with microcephaly are being born and the virus may also cause serious but less visible developmental delays that may not be identified until children are older,” said Katy Beh Neas, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, Easterseals. “Zika-affected babies will likely require comprehensive specialized services throughout their lives.”
Zika also has been linked to a significant increase in the prevalence of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a disorder causing paralysis that can last for days, weeks or months and may result in life-long disabilities as well as other serious conditions.
There is a heavy human and economic toll by not providing adequate funding to combat the Zika virus. Easterseals joins a wide range of public health experts and state and local elected officials urging Congress to approve immediately a Zika funding bill.
In August, the World Health Organization held an emergency meeting as Zika continues to spread, while 84 pregnant women are Zika positive throughout Florida according to the state’s Department of Health.
As of September 1, 671 pregnant women in the U.S. states and 1,080 pregnant women in the U.S. territories – the vast majority of whom are in Puerto Rico – have evidence of Zika virus infection.
For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families challenged by disability. Now, as America faces a broad range of new issues, we make a major, positive, life—changing difference in the lives of people and families challenged by today’s disabilities. The work we do every day is redefining disability for the 21st century. For more information, please visit easterseals.com