The Strategic National Stockpile’s Unique Role in Zika Prevention

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Zika Prevention KitsThe first thing that comes to mind when people think about the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is probably a big warehouse with lots of medicines and supplies. What many do not know is that even when the SNS does not have the specific medicines or supplies needed to combat a public health threat, SNS experts can play a key role in working with medical supply chain partners to locate and purchase products during an emergency response.

The involvement of the SNS in the Zika virus response is a perfect example of this little-known, but significant, role. Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an Aedes aegypti mosquito infected with Zika virus, although Aedes albopictus mosquitoes may also spread the virus. Recent outbreaks of Zika in the Americas, Caribbean, and Pacific Islands have coincided with increased reports of microcephaly and other birth defects as well as Guillain-Barré syndrome. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) response is focused on limiting the spread of Zika virus. Prevention is key for Zika control, because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika virus. This is where the SNS comes in.

Controlling mosquito populations is key to preventionZika prevention kit

During a public health emergency, CDC can deploy the SNS for medicines and supplies or can use SNS’ contracting abilities to access materials and services that can be used to prevent or treat diseases that threaten U.S. health security. Controlling the mosquito population and addressing other known routes of infection are important to limit the spread of Zika virus in U.S. territories. The SNS is providing immediate vector control services and preventive supplies for pregnant women to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable because they can pass Zika virus to their fetuses, which can cause microcephaly and other brain defects.

Before the Zika virus outbreak, the SNS did not stock or purchase medicines or supplies to respond to illnesses spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. In response to this outbreak, SNS staff are working with CDC procurement experts to award and implement immediate, short-term contracts to deploy materials and services to control the mosquito populations responsible for Zika transmission. These contracts allow CDC to work with territorial public health jurisdictions to treat areas where mosquitoes breed and live, as well as areas where pregnant women live.

Zika Prevention Kits help pregnant women protect themselves

Zika prevention kit bagsThe SNS is creating Zika Prevention Kits for pregnant women in U.S. territories. These kits are being distributed as an effort to help prevent Zika infection in pregnant women and to reduce the number of babies born with birth defects caused by Zika, such as microcephaly and other brain defects. Through donations from the CDC Foundation and its partners and by purchasing products, the SNS has obtained materials for the kits – including insect repellent, larvicides, mosquito netting, condoms to prevent sexual transmission of Zika, and educational materials.  The SNS is rapidly assembling these materials in reusable bags that can be given to pregnant women.

The SNS has sent nearly 7,000 kits to affected areas, and more are planned. Each U.S. territory is identifying the best way to get the kits to pregnant women. In Puerto Rico, local public health officials have partnered with clinics that are part of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) so they can reach expectant mothers. WIC already interacts with this population through its healthcare and nutritional services for low-income women, infants, and children. Local obstetrician offices are also being used to distribute these kits.

In the past, the SNS primarily focused on warehousing products and deploying those products for public health threats related to bioterrorism, pandemics, and natural disasters. With every emergency response, it has become more evident that the SNS can play a much larger role, especially when specialty products, products in high demand, and medical countermeasures are needed to secure the nation’s health. As one of the federal government’s leading groups of medical supply chain and logistics experts, the SNS at CDC has the ability to coordinate with industry partners to rapidly procure and transport medicines and supplies and serve specific populations in a public health emergency.

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10 comments on “The Strategic National Stockpile’s Unique Role in Zika Prevention”

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    CDC is preventing microcephaly in pregnant women;does it work even in Brasil.?

    Do you have a list of the Prevention Kit contents? Can a single kit be ordered as a model for local preparation?

    “the SNS has obtained materials for the kits – including insect repellent, larvicides, mosquito netting, condoms to prevent sexual transmission of Zika, and educational materials.”

    What is the insect repellent used? Have you a recipe for a natural repellent since some have been tested as even more effective than DEET-containing-ones? What is safe for pregnant women? Thanks.

    You should use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. These products have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness including for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Some natural products are EPA-registered. Natural products with EPA registration include para-menthane-diol and oil of lemon eucalyptus. We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural and homemade repellents. Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old and do not use products containing oil of lemon or para-methane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.

    The contents of the Zika Prevention Kits can be found at The kits distributed and mentioned in the Public Health Matters blog contain a bed net, insect repellent, permethrin spray, standing water treatment tabs, and condoms.

    In addition, we have created fact sheets also on this page, translated in several different languages, that you can distribute in your community to inform others on how to build their own kits. Unfortunately we are unable to send kits for preparedness activities.

    Who can I contact to obtain testing? I am very concerned, I have ALL of the symptoms that each piece of literature I’ve read about the Zika Virus states are the symptoms. I have additional auto-immune issues and am very concerned with receiving a correct diagnosis. Especially since there is a possibility of Guillian-Barre syndrome at a later time. My doctors office told me to call the health department to get the test and that a regular doctor cannot simply order the test. I know it is important to find out if one has the virus, even though treatment is to treat the symptoms. Please advise me who to call and the phone number.

    Where can I get tested in Austin, Texas? My doctors office states they cannot order testing.

    Laura – See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you develop symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes) and you live in or have recently traveled to an area with Zika. Tell them that you traveled to an area with Zika. Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viral diseases like dengue or chikungunya.

    You can find contact information for your state or local health department on their website. You should share your concerns with the health department so they can coordinate with your provider and provide them with the necessary guidance regarding testing for Zika virus.

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Page last reviewed: May 27, 2016
Page last updated: May 27, 2016