Gov. Scott Seeks Congressional Hearing On Zika as Florida Cases Pass 100
FlaglerLive | May 12, 2016
As the number of Zika cases climbs in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday asked U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell for federal aid and also called for members of Congress to hold a hearing in Miami. Scott, who traveled to Washington on Wednesday, is seeking federal money for such things as Zika “preparedness” kits and additional staffing at mosquito control districts, his office said in a statement after the meeting with Burwell.
Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that emerged last year in South America, can cause severe birth defects if pregnant women contract the disease. The statement from Scott’s office said 112 travel-related cases have been documented in Florida. In such cases, people contract Zika elsewhere and then carry it into Florida.
Scott also has asked members of Congress to hold a hearing in Miami on Zika preparedness. “Miami is leading the state in travel-related cases of the Zika virus and is an international hub for travel, especially for those traveling to Brazil this summer for the Olympics where the virus is spreading rapidly,” Scott said. “Mosquito populations are also at their peak during the summer season, which means we need a solution fast. I want Congress to hear directly from our county health officers, our mosquito control districts and doctors about what is needed in our state in order to be prepared.”
As of today (May 12), the Centers for Disease Control report 503 travel-related cases of Zika in the United States, 48 of which affect pregnant women, 10 of which were sexually transmitted. Some 112 cases have been reported in Florida. Two travel-related cases were confirmed in Volusia County on May 11. As yet, no local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the United States.
Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika outbreaks have probably occurred in many locations. Before 2007, at least 14 cases of Zika had been documented, although other cases were likely to have occurred and were not reported. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to those of many other diseases, many cases may not have been recognized.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas.
–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida