It reminds me of that old commercial featuring  a fictional physician, hawking Vick’s cough syrup saying, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”   The line has long been a pop culture catchphrase for those of us who understand that we are not doctors. But it seems some members of Congress want to play doctor; They want to make the decision about how best to fund prevention and treatment efforts of the Zika virus-- transmitted by infected mosquitos. In fact, many have decided that the 1.9 million dollars real doctors and scientists are asking for is too much.

Since February, normally cautious medical experts have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of Zika, explaining that we are not prepared to protect our population from the virus. Now those same top experts are calling the arrival of the  Zika virus an emergency. They are urging the immediate authorization of funding for testing, prevention and treatment.  The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the New York Times that delay makes it harder to stop Zika. Dr. Thomas Frieden was blunt in saying, “There is a narrow window of opportunity here and it’s closing.”

They’ve got my attention. This isn’t Ebola where the risk was much smaller. The widespread infection of Zika is very possible --one infected mosquito could potentially infect thousands. I wasn’t concerned at first because Zika seemed to target pregnant women. But now the rest of us have to worry about evidence that the Zika virus triggers Guillain Barre Syndrome which causes paralysis. This on top of the babies with microcephaly—small heads—and other neurological disorders. What other conditions are linked to the virus? Scientists don’t know, which is why they want to put teams of experts to work right now trying to figure it out.

“Listen to the experts,” Florida Representative Vern Buchanan wrote in a Congressional letter. His state, where it’s already hot, and where people traveling from all over come to visit, is a ripe environment for the spread of Zika.   I know someone who moved her bridal trip from the Caribbean to Florida, hoping to put the group outside of a Zika hot zone. I’m worried that move won’t matter because the Centers for Disease Control have already identified 500 people who have come back to the 50 states, after traveling to Zika infected countries.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are moving slowing responding with very different plans and differing amounts of money. Each side is accusing the other of using the Zika virus to push other agendas. Republicans are convinced health agencies are trying to create an open ended slush fund. And Democrats are convinced that anti- environmentalists are hoping to get rid of federal pesticide regulations. The people we elected to represent us are are literally fiddling while Rome burns.

As a top scientist at the CDC pointed out “this virus is scary enough on its own. You don’t have to hype this.” Congress grow up and make a decision about Zika funding before the spread is out of control.  I’m not a doctor, and I don’t try to play one. But I know--as all of you should—that none of us are immune from the bite of an infected mosquito.