Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in four Florida counties where the Zika virus has been detected.
“Today I am directing Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in the four counties that have individuals with the Zika virus.” Scott said in a statement Wednesday. “Although Florida’s current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state.”
The Zika virus has been found in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee, and Santa Rosa Counties.
The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus and its accompanying complications a Public Health Emergency of International Concern earlier this week.
The mosquito-transmitted virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control, causes symptoms including fever rash, joint pain, and red-eye. Zika appears to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are infected with the disease have been found to give birth to babies with birth defects.
“Our Department of Health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best,” Scott added Wednesday.
Scott’s Executive Order directs the Surgeon General to notify the Commissioner of Agriculture about the health emergency and authorizes the agriculture commissioner to issue a mosquito declaration and focus mosquito sprays in the four affected counties.
The order also 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.”