Zika virus reported in Panhandle


The Florida Department of Health reported six new travel-associated cases of Zika in Florida including one in Santa Rosa County, according to a news release. Also, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in each of the counties affected by the virus.

According to the CDC, Zika fever illness is generally mild with a rash, fever and joint pain. CDC researchers are examining a possible link between the virus and unborn babies exposed during pregnancy.

Travel-related cases are defined as disease believed to be contracted outside of the state. Florida has reported a total of nine travel-related cases to the federal government.

While the CDC has not identified Florida as an area of local Zika risk, the Florida Department of Health is closely monitoring imported disease, officials wrote. None of the confirmed cases involve pregnant women.

The CDC has issued travel notices for Zika virus for several countries: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

The department of health encourages Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing; covering windows with screens; and other basic precautions.

Florida has confirmed a total of nine Zika cases; four in Miami-Dade, two in Hillsborough, two in Lee County and one in Santa Rosa.

In Tallahassee today Scott signed Executive Order 16-29 which directs State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in the four counties (Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa) which have the Zika virus. 

In addition to directing Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in four counties, the executive order also:

• Directs the Surgeon General to immediately notify the Commissioner of Agriculture of this threat to public health and outlines that statute authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a mosquito declaration in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties. The Executive Order also says that special attention for mosquito sprays shall be paid to residential areas, as CDC guidance indicates that backpack mosquito spray measures may be most effective. 

• Directs the Florida Department of Health to make its own determinations as to further resources and information needed in the State from the CDC to combat the spread of Zika and other measures that may need to be taken to protect public health.

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