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Politics

King Introduces Bill to Combat Zika Virus

BANGOR, MAINE - Maine independent Sen. Angus King introduced legislation today to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

"And we're concerned about it in Maine as we are in the rest of the country," King said. "Maine has a history of dealing with insect-borne diseases we have been dealing, unfortunately, with Lyme disease for decades."

King says the U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with a serious insect-borne epidemic such as Zika.

Called the SMASH Act, the bill seeks to combat an outbreak by supporting and expanding state and local mosquito control efforts; re-authorizes some lapsed grants for laboratories; and prescribes more oversight from the Government Accountability Office regarding mosquito control efforts.

The bill is being co-sponsored by Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida and Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say  more than 1,700 cases of the virus have been reported in the U.S. and U.S. territories. Zika has been linked to serious birth defects. There's currently no vaccine for the mosquito-borne disease.