Florida Asks For Emergency Help To Fight Zika

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Aedes aegypti mosquitoAedes aegypti mosquito

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has officially filed a request to the federal government for emergency help as 10 additional cases of the Zika virus have been found in the state.

Zika, which is primarily found in Cental and South American countries like Mexico and Brazil, is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Those infected will have either no symptoms or a very mild reaction. However, the disease can cause severe birth defects.

The Florida outbreak began at the end of July, when four people in a one-square-mile area in northern Miami were confirmed to have Zika. Since then, the state health department began an investigation into possible transmissions, testing more than 200 Floridians, according to The Hill. Ten more cases have since been confirmed. Only two of the total 14 cases are women.

Scott is now calling for an emergency response team from the CDC, writing in a statement that the team would help state health officials with their "investigation, research and sample collection efforts."

According to ABC news, health experts have long suspected that Zika would eventually reach the United States, especially in Florida, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito lives and where a number of people travel to and from infected South or Central American countries.

The CDC is already warning women who are pregnant or could become pregnant to avoid "unnecessary" travel to southern Florida, according to The Hill.

The Zika outbreak could be a hit to Florida's tourism industry, which reaches its peak during the summer month. Scott has taken steps to reassure Florida residents as well as tourists that the virus will be contained and dealt with.

"Florida has a proven track record of success when it comes to managing similar mosquito-borne viruses," said Scott in his statement, referencing previous Florida outbreaks of dengue fever and Chikungunya.

We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses. While I encourage all residents and visitors to continue to use precaution by draining standing water and wearing bug spray, Florida remains safe and open for business.

ABC News reports that this outbreak is the first time the Zika virus has been transmitted by infected mosquitoes within the continental U.S. 

Sources: The Hill, ABC News, CDC / Photo credit: James Gathany/Wikimedia Commons

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