CBS4 (WFOR MIAMI)
Expecting Mother, Leaders Voice Concern Over Zika In Florida
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — A South Florida woman voiced her concerns over the spread of the Zika virus a week before she is set to deliver her first baby.
Laura Pratt said it’s a concern that has plagued her for months due to its connection to severe birth defects.
“The Zika virus has been a threat since the beginning of my pregnancy. It’s been a concern of mine for the past nine months,” said Pratt.
Monday morning, Laura, a pediatric nurse, joined Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, several mosquito experts and Mayor of Hollywood Peter Bober to spread awareness about the virus.
“Mosquitoes don’t know if they target a Republican or Democrat. It affects all of us. Zika impacts all of us,” said Wasserman Schultz.
More than 80 days ago, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding to pay for research and treatment of the virus which can be transmitted by both mosquitoes and sexual contact.
“Zika is not waiting on us to act together. It is here and now and we have to do something to stop it in its track. I am not giving up,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Experts say we can all do our part in preventing the spread of Zika starting in our own homes. Click here for tips on how to prevent the spread of Zika.
At last check, Florida had 113 confirmed cases of the virus. Wasserman Schultz said we must act and now.
“This is not Ebola. It’s actually worse in Florida. The chances of getting the Zika virus are much more likely, ” said the congresswoman.
Meantime, the USDA and other organizations are trying to fill data gaps about the invasive and disease-carrying mosquitoes through counting.
— University of Miami researchers are crunching five years of surveillance data from Miami-Dade County’s mosquito control office to create seasonal maps, somewhat like hurricane warnings, showing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases under various conditions.
— The University of Arizona and partner agencies are recruiting volunteers for another Great Arizona Mosquito Hunt , which last year analyzed the contents of traps set by over 70 schools.
— State governments in Louisiana and New York , which already survey for a different mosquito implicated in West Nile infections, are deploying new traps to learn when Aedes aegypti and Asian tiger mosquitoes are prevalent.
— Florida’s Orange County, home to parts of Walt Disney World, wants 10 more seasonal workers this year to keep up with door-to-door surveillance triggered when health officials suspect a mosquito-borne virus.
“You can’t spray your way out of this. The only way to deal with this is boots on the ground,” said Chris Hunter, director of the county’s health services department. “Unless you have homeowners taking responsibility, you need an army.”