Florida governor declares public health emergency due to Zika virus cases

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Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in four counties due to a series of Zika cases that originated outside the country.

The public health emergency is in effect for Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties, where a total of nine travel-associated cases of the Zika virus have been identified as of Wednesday. There have been no known cases in which people have become infected while in Florida..

“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. “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 governor said the state’s Department of Health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best,” he said.

Zika is typically spread by mosquitoes, but Scott’s declaration comes just a day after health officials in Texas reported a case in which a person became infected through sexual contact. The World Health Organization on Monday declared the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas to be a global health emergency, calling for a coordinated international response.

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