CDC: Zika spread 'expected' in Ga.; funding crucial

CDC chief calls on congress for funding

ATLANTA -- So far, 17 Georgia residents have contracted the Zika virus. But the CDC director said that the number could rapidly grow - especially if Congress doesn't act soon.

11Alive's Valerie Hoff talked to doctor Tom Frieden on Thursday about the fight against Zika and what's holding it up.

Frieden predicts the virus is going to increase in Georgia, from travel, sexual transmission and local spread of the virus from Georgia mosquitoes.

"This is a horrific situation we have to do everything possible to confront," Frieden said.

Frieden stepped up the sense of urgency in stopping the spread of Zika, telling a packed Atlanta Press Club that time is running out.

"The speed of an epidemic is the speed of days and weeks," Frieden said. "We need to make sure congress acts quickly so we can work with American women and families to monitor the effects of Zika."

At issue is close to $2 billion in funding that's been delayed in Washington - money he said could help with a vaccine, new mosquito control technology and medical studies of Zika's effects.

Georgia has seen 17 Zika cases so far but Frieden said to expect an increase in the summer.

"Mosquito season is just heating up and so is Zika, so we anticipate there will be more cases of Zika over the coming months," Frieden said. "We anticipate more travelers bringing in Zika - more sexual transmission of Zika."

And that could mean some local transmission, he said.

"We're working closely with the governors and the health departments of all the affected states to be ready to respond but we know there will be, in all likelihood, some transmission."

Local transmission will happen once a Georgia mosquito gets the virus and bites multiple people. Frieden won't predict any numbers but said that it is expected to happen.

He still insists there is no reason to cancel or delay the Brazil Olympics, though some other health professionals disagree.

Five things to know about Zika

Photos | The fight against Zika virus

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