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U.S. Surgeon General Addresses Florida’s Zika Worries

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that can spread Zika are native to Florida.

Most Floridians know Florida’s hot and humid summers bring with them a boom in the mosquito population.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he was raised in Miami and he understands that Florida residents may be concerned about the latest mosquito-borne illness – Zika.

Murthy recently told Health News Florida that federal public health scientists are preparing for the possibility that transmission may happen soon on American soil. So far, all 94 cases reported in Florida have been contracted by people traveling outside the states.

“Right now, we have not seen local transmission of Zika in the continental United States,” said Murthy. “We are seeing local transmission in Puerto Rico. We do not know for certain if local transmission will arrive in the continental United States, but we are preparing for it.”

Murthy said his agency has learned from experience to be especially watchful in summer months.

“I think if we look at other examples of other viruses that are similar to Zika, like chikungunya virus, what we see is that chikungunya came during the summer time, and so it’s possible that Zika could follow a similar pattern,” said Murthy. “But we are doing everything we can to prepare for the fact that Zika might come to the continental United States in terms of local transmission.”

In general, Zika is considered a mild illness. However, there are serious risks for pregnant women. The illness has been connected to serious birth defects.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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