Florida governor cancels Zika trip to Washington after storm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott has canceled a trip to Washington, where he was to meet with congressional leaders about funding for the Zika virus.

Spokeswoman Jackie Schutz says that Scott will remain in Florida to monitor response efforts to Hurricane Hermine. The state has seen a rise in the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease over the past month.

Congress returns from its seven-week summer break on Tuesday. President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. But lawmakers left Washington in mid-July without approving any of the money.

So far, a total of 47 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered in Florida, according to the CDC.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the latest Zika zone, a 1.5 square mile area in Miami Beach, on Aug. 19. The first U.S. hot zone for locally transmitted cases of Zika was identified in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in late July.

The mosquito-borne illness is especially dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to serious birth defects. The CDC has issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid the Zika hot Zones in Miami-Dade County.

If a mosquito carrying Zika does bite, it can take up to two weeks to cause symptoms like:

  • fever
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • joint pain
  • conjunctivitis, which causes red, irritated eyes

The State Surgeon General has activated a 24-hour Zika hotline in Florida to answer questions and concerns. That number is 855-622-6735.

Pregnant women can receive a free test at the Health District Center, located at 1350 NW 14th St in Miami. For more information, call (305)-324-2400.

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