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4. Political Cartoon: 'Overkill?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Overkill?'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS: A GATEWAY TO THE HEROIN EPIDEMIC

It’s a scary slide —
Painkillers to heroin ...
And all too common.

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. Officials: Studying Zika's Sexual Transmission Risk Can't Wait For Congress

Public health officials are borrowing money from other programs so researchers can delve into how Zika is transmitted sexually, a study that could impact millions of Americans and take years to complete. "We are going out on a limb, but we have to," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that a large majority of Americans want federal money to go toward fighting the virus.

Reuters: Zika Sex Research Begins Despite U.S. Congress Funding Impasse
It could take years to learn how long men infected with Zika are capable of sexually transmitting the virus, which can cause crippling birth defects and other serious neurological disorders. In the meantime, health officials have warned couples to refrain from unprotected sex for six months after a male partner is infected. The extraordinary recommendation, based on a single report of Zika surviving 62 days in semen, could affect millions. (Berkrot, 6/30)

The Hill: Senate Dems Pledge To Keep Fighting Over Zika
Senate Democrats on Wednesday pledged to keep fighting over funding to combat the Zika virus as lawmakers head toward a Fourth of July recess with no deal in sight. "It's the last thing Republicans should be playing politics with. We all know that Zika poses a serious threat," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told reporters. "Read our lips. Read our lips. ... We are not relenting." (Carney, 6/29)

Morning Consult: Senate Democratic Women Say Zika Bill Undermines Women’s Health
Four Senate Democratic women reiterated the caucus mantra Wednesday that they don’t intend to drop objections to a spending bill that would provide federal funding for the Zika virus. The senators said at a press conference that the bill undermines women’s health and is paid for irresponsibly. Unless the bill changes, they pledged not to relent when a procedural vote on the measure returns to the Senate floor next week. (McIntire, 6/29)

Politico Pro: Fauci: Zika Vaccine Research Will Soon Stop Without New Funding
The federal government’s leading infectious disease researcher is confident that a Zika vaccine is possible, but he said work on it will come to a screeching halt if Congress doesn’t fund the White House’s emergency spending request. “I am right now using [the unspent] Ebola money. I will very quickly run out of it,” said Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The vaccine effort will be blunted if not aborted if we don’t have the funding.” Fauci said that it would be possible to develop the vaccine if Congress approves $1.1 billion, which is short of the president’s $1.9 billion request but the current total being considered by lawmakers. But he stressed that development would be more difficult if lawmakers choose to pay for it from other HHS or NIH programs. (Haberkorn, 6/29)

The Hill: Zika Vaccine Trials Could Halt Without New Funds, Official Says
A top U.S. health official says that advanced trials of a Zika vaccine would be hindered or even stopped completely if Congress does not approve more funding. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of infectious disease research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said he hopes to start a phase II trial of a Zika vaccine in early 2017, but that the effort requires more money. (Sullivan, 6/29)

Morning Consult: Health Experts Tell Senators They’re Hopeful Of Zika Vaccine, But There’s Much To Learn
Scientists and researchers are hopeful about a Zika vaccine, but there is much more research to be done on the disease, officials told lawmakers Wednesday. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a roundtable on how to prepare for and protect the nation from the Zika virus. ... Wednesday’s roundtable generally avoided partisan sparks and focused on both scientific and practical ways to combat Zika. These efforts center around both mosquito control and medical research and development. The problem is, relatively little is known about Zika. (Owens, 6/29)

Kaiser Health News: Most Americans Want More Federal Money To Stop Zika: Poll
A large majority of Americans want the federal government to increase funding to prevent Zika’s spread in the U.S. and also help women at risk in affected areas get access to abortion, contraception and family planning services, according to a poll released Thursday. The virus, which has reached epidemic levels in Latin America and the Caribbean and is likely to spread further this summer, has been linked to serious birth defects in babies born to infected mothers. (Galewitz, 6/30)

Media outlets report on Zika updates from the states —

The Associated Press: Zika Virus A Concern For Poor Urban Areas Along Gulf Coast
The poorest parts of Houston remind Dr. Hotez of some of the neighborhoods in Latin America hardest hit by Zika. Broken window screens. Limited air conditioning. Trash piles that seem to re-appear even after they're cleaned up. On a hot, humid day this month, Hotez pointed at one pile that included old tires and a smashed-in television with water pooling inside. It was a textbook habitat for the mosquitoes that carry and transmit the Zika virus, and one example of the challenge facing public health officials. (6/30)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn Team Invents Rapid, Low-Cost Zika Test
University of Pennsylvania engineers report they have developed a $2 field test that reliably detects Zika virus in saliva within 40 minutes. The existing test involves a common method called polymerase chain reaction, which requires the use of a laboratory and electricity -- a challenge in remote areas. (Avril, 6/29)

The New York Times: Travelers To Dominican Republic Lead New York City In Positive Zika Tests
More than half of those who have tested positive for the Zika virus in New York City had traveled in recent months to the Dominican Republic, the city’s health department said on Wednesday, releasing data from its latest round of testing. The results were a stark reminder that, as the summer travel season begins, many of the most popular destinations for New Yorkers in the Caribbean and Latin America pose a serious health risk, especially for pregnant women. (Santora, 6/29)

The Columbus Dispatch: Sweet And Deadly: City Has New Weapon In Fight Against Mosquitoes
Usually, the goal is to drive mosquitoes away, or to kill them in their tracks. Spray, bam, drop dead. But Columbus Public Health has one tool in its mosquito-destroying arsenal that doesn't quite work that way. Attractive toxic sugar bait, as it is so seductively called, actually lures mosquitoes with a gift of sweet syrup. Then it poisons them with surprise garlic oil. (Kurtzman, 6/29)

St. Louis Public Radio: Amid Zika Fears, Local Health Agencies Step Up Mosquito Prevention
Most preparations are well practiced after years of dealing with West Nile: health departments set traps, spray for mosquitoes, and encourage residents to wear long-sleeves and insect repellent. There have been no cases of Zika transmitted by local mosquitoes so far in the continental United States, but the northernmost ranges of the two mosquito species that carry Zika do cross through Missouri. Seven Missourians have been diagnosed with the virus after traveling to affected areas, including two pregnant women. (Bouscaren, 6/29)

The Tennessean: 1st Confirmed Case Of Zika Reported In Nashville
The Metro Public Health Department announced Tuesday that a Davidson County resident has tested positive for the Zika virus. According to health officials, the person recently returned to Nashville after traveling to Honduras where Zika disease is being transmitted by mosquitoes. The individual is expected to survive, health officials said. (Alund, 6/28)