Florida governor, officials hold Zika preparedness meeting in Doral

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Health officials and Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined together in a meeting, Monday, to help prepare South Florida for Zika.

Scott gave opening remarks at the Florida Department of Health’s “Zika Preparedness Planning Meeting” in Miami, which discussed ongoing efforts to prepare for and combat Zika.

“We gotta keep fighting this,” said Scott. “We’re not going to have less moquitoes. We’re going into hurricane season, so everybody’s gotta be cautious.”

County health departments and mosquito control districts across Florida, as well as officials from the Center from Disease Control, joined Scott in helping the public.

“We know we must remain vigilant,” said Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip. “That is why we’re having the meeting today with our mosquito control district partners – to talk about experiences from last year, what worked well, what we can continue doing this year and looking forward to the future, as we expect there will be other mosquito-borne illnesses that we will see in our state.”

So far, 104 people in Florida have tested positive for the Zika virus in 2017. Only six cases were locally transmitted, while the rest were travel-related. Those six contracted the virus in 2016, however, and tested positive in 2017.

In addition to the millions spent on preventing the spread of Zika, the state is putting another $25 million into developing a more effective test for the virus and a vaccine.

“Hopefully, we will eventually have a vaccine where this will be behind us,” Scott said. “In the meantime, it’s going to be very important how we deal with prevention.”

Miami-Dade County has had 32 travel-related cases, while Broward County has had 13.

There are, currently, no active Zika transmission zones in Florida.

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.

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