Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Angus King (I-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act, bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize critical public health tools that support states and localities in their mosquito surveillance and control efforts, especially those linked to mosquitos that carry the Zika virus.
“With the summer months around the corner, the threat of the Zika virus is once again a concern for Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of our country,” said Rubio. “We must take proactive measures now to ensure the safety and health of all Americans. It is extremely important that states and localities have the tools they need to combat Zika and other illnesses spread by mosquitoes. This bill is another step toward keeping Floridians and tourists safe.”
“With the summer months approaching, people will once again face the threat of the Zika virus, which has been shown to have a terrible impact on women and has been linked to birth defects in children. As public health experts have repeatedly told us, it’s only a matter of time before the Zika virus becomes a serious problem,” said King. “That’s why we need to take immediate action to fight back against the spread of the virus – and states and localities are where the battle can most effectively be fought. After all, Maine has been battling insect-borne diseases like Lyme for decades. So by giving states the tools they need, we can help control the spread of mosquitos and their viruses, and better protect people across the country.”
“One of the best ways to curb the spread of this virus is to eliminate the mosquitoes that carry it,” said Nelson. “As we head into these warmer summer months, we need to make sure our local mosquito-control boards have the resources they need to protect their communities.”
“Families across the state of North Carolina are looking forward to warmer weather, and now is the time to take important steps to combat mosquitos that can spread the Zika virus,” said Burr. “The SMASH Act reauthorizes public health programs that can help communities in North Carolina and across America find and control mosquitos that spread Zika and other serious diseases. I am committed to protecting North Carolinians from Zika and the SMASH Act will help us be better prepared for this and the future threats we may face.”
The SMASH Act:
- Reauthorizes and makes targeted improvements to the lapsed Mosquito Abatement Safety and Health (MASH) Act, which was enacted in 2003 in response to the West Nile virus. It also authorizes increased support for state and local mosquito control work – efforts that are critical for controlling and reducing the mosquitoes that spread infectious diseases. Under the bill, up to $130 million in grants will be authorized each year in addition to matching funds to state and local governments.
- Reauthorizes the epidemiology laboratory capacity grants under the Public Health Service Act, which support state and local health departments in surveillance for, and response to, infectious diseases, including Zika. Laboratory capacity plays a pivotal role in preparation for and response to public health threats.
- Requires the Government Accountability Office to study existing mosquito and other vector-borne surveillance and control programs and make recommendations. This analysis will help Congress to identify opportunities to strengthen our public health preparedness programs in partnerships with states and local communities. Ultimately, such analysis will better protect Americans from emerging mosquito-borne infectious diseases. Applying the lessons learned from responses to public health threats is critical for continuing to optimize our nation’s medical and public health preparedness and response.