State monitoring Zika Virus

Posted on February 12, 2016 by From Staff Reports

The State of Florida is currently monitoring the outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus that nearly 20 people have contracted over the last several weeks in the Sunshine State.
Last week, Governor Rick Scott directed State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong to issue a Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika.
As of press time, there are seven counties in the state that have confirmed cases, two of them being Santa Rosa County.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Zika illness is generally mild with a rash, fever and joint pain. CDC researchers are examining a possible link between the virus and harm to unborn babies exposed during pregnancy.
Since the announcement regarding the Public Health Emergency, Scott has issued the state to be on standby with Zika antibody tests to monitor the virus.
Scott asked the CDC last week to provide at least 1,000 Zika antibody tests so the state can test individuals, especially pregnant women and new mothers, who have traveled to affected areas and had symptoms of Zika. The antibody test will allow the state to see if individuals ever had the Zika virus. At the time of his request, Florida only had the capacity to test 475 people.
The CDC responded on Tuesday by supplying Florida with 950 Zika antibody tests.
The governor also asked the CDC at his press conference last week to conduct a conference call within the next two weeks to help train Florida hospital workers — especially OBGYN doctors and those who work with pregnant women — on how Zika is spread, its symptoms, treatments and proper precautions.
“With over 20 million residents and 100 million tourists, we must stay ahead of the possible spread of the Zika virus and take immediate action to ensure Florida is prepared,” Scott said at the conference last Thursday. “While Florida does have 448 kits to test active cases (different than antibody testing kits), I am authorizing the Department of Health to immediately purchase 4,000 more to ensure our state has the resources to quickly respond.”
Although all of the cases so far have been contracted outside of the United States, Santa Rosa County is doing its part to help monitor their mosquito traps and also to keep mosquito population down.
According to county Public Information Officer Brandi Whitehurst, the county is being asked to spray standing water for mosquitoes and is asking residents to empty any containers around their home that have standing water in them.
Since the weather is too cool, county Mosquito Control workers can not actively spray for mosquitoes, but will spray standing water.
Whitehurst said the county will continue to monitor their traps to ensure populations of mosquitoes who are capable of carrying the virus are down.