Fla. Gov. Rick Scott directs public health emergency to be declared in 4 counties for Zika virus

by: Lorena Inclan Updated:

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order directing the state's surgeon general to declare a public health emergency related to the Zika virus in four counties.

In the executive order, Scott cited nine travel-related cases of the Zika virus in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties. None of these cases are present in pregnant women, according to the order.

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Gov. Scott said in a release, “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. 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. 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.”

The order also allows for special attention will be given to to mosquito sprays in the residential areas of those counties.

RELATED: Georgia confirms its first case of Zika virus

A new case of the Zika virus in the U.S. shows it can be transmitted sexually.

The CDC is now working on guidelines to warn people about its potential transmission through sexual contact.

The case was uncovered in Texas, where the patient had sex with someone who had recently returned from South America and tested positive for the mosquito borne illness.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, past president of the Duval County Medical Society, said the virus could potentially start showing up in our area because the mosquito that carries the virus also lives in Florida.

“We could see a case a locally acquired case in Jacksonville but more likely we will see imported cases for now. Once we get into the rainy seasons where there will be an increased opportunity, the aedes mosquito to breed, I think then the risk becomes higher,” Rathore said.

Rathore said the virus has been around for a long time and it’s rare that someone will get hospitalized because of it.

“In 1947 there was a monkey that got infected with it and then in 1952, the virus was actually described and defined,” said Rathore.

However, Rathore said the Zika virus could pose a threat to growing fetuses if their mother becomes infected.

Read Scott's full executive order HERE.