Senate stalls Zika funding while WHO, researchers deliver daunting updates

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The World Health Organization released new recommendations Tuesday, advising men and women who have traveled to areas of active Zika transmission, whether symptomatic or not, to use condoms or abstain from sex  for six months. That’s the length of time previously advised only for males who did show symptoms of Zika infection, and almost as long as Congress has CapitolMosquitoabstained from responding to the February White House call for emergency funding to fight the spread and impacts of the virus.

The Senate, confronted again with a bill that withholds funding from family planning clinics, draws funds from the Affordable Care Act, and fails to supplement Medicaid funding in Puerto Rico, (home to more than an estimated 13,000 Zika infections) abstained from providing emergency funding again Tuesday.

That means Congress is now closing in on seven months of inaction in response to the continuing outbreak of the virus that causes a spectrum of neurological disorders that include microcephaly and deafness in newborns and the paralyzing Guillain Barre syndrome in adults, and that, according to the new WHO guidance, can be found in saliva and urine as long as three months after infection. As the wait continues, a study using mouse models of Zika infection, also released Tuesday, indicates the virus, settling in the eyes, also is shed in tears.

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