Zika virus in Florida
Florida is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. The State has 20 million residents and attracts 100 million tourists every year.
As of 9 March 2016, 52 confirmed cases of Zika is reported in seven counties of Florida. The virus was found in Alachua (1), Brevard (1), Broward (7), Hillsborough (3), Lee (3), Miami-Dade (24), Orange (3), Osceola (1), Polk (2), Santa Rosa (1), Seminole County (1) and St. Johns (1) counties. No cases have been reported in Palm Beach County. In all of the cases, the virus was contracted while traveling outside the United States. None of the cases have been acquired locally. None of the patients who contracted the virus are pregnant women. In all the cases, the patients acquired the virus while traveling in Latin and Central America.
Florida has the capacity to test 5,079 people for active Zika virus and 1,402 for Zika antibodies. A hotline for information on Zika virus is managed by Florida Department of Health.
The hot and humid climate of Florida, year-round mosquitoes is conducive for Zika virus, which puts 20 million residents of Floria at risk for the virus. The Sunshine state also attracts millions of visitors. Live water in Florida is more where mosquitoes breed. However, Florida seems to be well prepared in fighting mosquito-borne outbreaks than the rest of the States. In 2014, chikungunya infected a million people in the Caribbean. While 452 travel-related cases were documented in Florida that year, just 11 people contracted the virus in the state. No chikungunya cases were reported in Florida in 2015, although 73 people contracted the virus while traveling.
State of emergency declared in four counties of Florida
On February 3, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties, where people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus. There have been nine people in the four counties who were contracted with Zika virus. Health officials believe that all of them contracted the disease while outside the United States. Despite the virus being contracted outside the U.S. and are travel-related, Florida Governor Scott said that they have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in the State.
A day after, Florida Governor expanded the state of emergency to Santa Rosa county after a case of Zika virus was discovered there. This brings the total number of cases confirmed in Florida to 12. In all of the cases, the virus was contracted when the patients were abroad. No case of Zika virus transmission through mosquitoes in Florida was reported.
Florida Governor has asked to rush 1,000 Zika virus testing kits from the Centers for Disease Control. Florida will buy 4,000 more. The testing would mainly focus on pregnant women who are especially vulnerable.
On Feb 6, 2016 two more case of Zika virus was reported in Florida. The first case was in Osceola County, making it the first in central Florida. Natasha Sagi is visiting Orlando from Dubai and said she said warning signs about the virus on her Disney cruise ship. The other was in St. Johns County, near Jacksonville.
On 11 February, two new cases of Zika virus was confirmed in Lee and Miami-Dad counties, bringing the total number of cases in the State to 18. Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will host a conference call and webinar with Florida hospital workers, including OB-GYNs, doctors and those who work with pregnant women to explain about Zika virus. Florida has 1,425 of the antibody test kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On 12 February, two new cases of Zika virus were confirmed in Alachua and Broward counties, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to 20.
On 24 February, three pregnant women in Florida were tested positive for Zika virus. The home counties of the women were not disclosed. This brings the total number of Zika cases in Florida to 35. All the three got the virus when they traveled outside the United States. One woman is from Orange County and two from Miami-Dade. Florida Governor Rick Scott requested another 250 antibody test kits from the CDC after learning of the three positive cases.
Zika virus Hotline
Florida Governor Rick Scott, on 11 February 2016, has directed State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for Florida residents and visitors. The hotline number is 855-622-6735 and will be managed by Florida Department of Health. The hotline was launched on 12 February. The Zika Virus Information Hotline will answer questions and advise callers on what steps they can take to protect their homes and families from Zika. They will also provide daily updates on the Zika virus in the State to the callers.
As of 23 February, the hotline has received 648 calls since its launch on 12 February.
Testing of Zika virus
Florida's Public Health Laboratories have the capability to test for Zika virus, she said. They can test for active cases and can also test for antibodies to indicate if a person had Zika in the past.
- 22 February 2016 - 28 confirmed cases
- 24 February 2016 - 35 confirmed cases, three pregnant women diagnosed with Zika. First case involving pregnant women in Florida
- 9 March 2016 - 52 cases of Zika virus
Broward County is in south Flordia. Four confirmed cases of Zika virus was reported in Broward County.
In the weekend of 15 February 2016, a new Zika virus case was confirmed, bringing the total tally of Zika virus in Florida to 21.
As of 17 February 2016, three people in Hillsborough County have contracted Zika virus. All the three patients were infected while traveling outside the United States.
On 17 February 2016, Commissioners of Hillsborough County have voted 7-0 to raise the budget of Public Works Department by $475,870 (12%) to increase efforts to eradicate mosquitoes. Of the increased budget, $88,000 will be used for personnel services, largely overtime, and $387,870 is for operating expenses. Additional mosquito traps will be set up in 20 locations.
At least 9 cases of Zika virus were confirmed in Miami-Dade County of south Florida.
On 18 February 2016, two more cases of Zika virus in Miami-Dade county were confirmed by Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. None of the cases involve pregnant women.
Two new cases of Zika virus were confirmed in Orange County on 26 February 2016. The total number of cases so far confirmed in Florida climb to 26.
A sexually transmitted case of Zika virus was confirmed in a person of Polk County. This is the first person-to-person transmitted case of Zika virus in Florida. Governor Scott Brown has scheduled a conference call with healthcare workers in Florida to ensure they have all the resources and information needed to protect their families.
On 23 February 2016, the first case of Zika virus in Seminole County was confirmed. This brings the total number of Zika cases in Florida to 29.
Orlando International Airport
Measures are being taken at the Orlando International Airport to curb spread of Zika virus. Mosquito-spraying program is increased and educational fliers are being distributed throughout the airport to create awareness of Zika virus. Overseas travelers are encouraged to bring insect repellant and to cover up their skin with clothing to prevent bites.
- Dr. John Armstrong - State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health