Participants will hear the latest scientific knowledge about Zika, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner, including implications for pregnant women and strategies for mosquito control. The meeting will also provide an opportunity to identify both the best approaches to addressing the virus and possible gaps in preparedness and response at the federal, state and local levels.
There are 117 confirmed cases of the virus in Puerto Rico, four times the number at the end of January. The territory, which has a population of 3.5 million people and has been struggling with a massive debt, is “by far the most affected area” in the United States, CDC director Tom Frieden said Friday.
Frieden will be traveling next week to Puerto Rico, according to agency officials.
The Zika Readiness Action Plan Summit, which will take place April 1 at CDC's Atlanta headquarters, was first reported by Reuters on Friday morning.
The meeting is part of a broad administration strategy to establish a coalition of federal, state and local leaders to formulate a coordinated approach for preventing the spread of Zika virus to pregnant women, who are the most vulnerable because of the risk of birth defects.
Part of the challenge U.S. officials face is that few disease carriers have have proved more resilient — or more deadly to humans — than Aedes aegypti. It has fueled epidemics ranging from dengue and yellow fever to Chikungunya.
Obama has asked for $1.8 billion in additional funding from Congress to address Zika, but GOP lawmakers have responded that the administration should use existing funds earmarked for fighting Ebola instead.
"The administration believes that swift action by Congress is needed to help limit harmful spread of this virus in Puerto Rico and to stay ahead of this threat in the continental United States," another CDC official said in an email.
Lena Sun contributed to this report.