Gov. Rick Scott said today that the federal government must address the Zika virus threat like an incoming hurricane.
He made the statement prior to travel to Washington D.C. next week to meet with congressional leaders on the issue. Treating Zika like a catastrophe triggers triggers specific preparation and response efforts by the federal government.
“Florida has now had more than 100 documented cases of the Zika virus,” he said. “We are now headed into summer, when heat and rainfall cause our mosquito population to grow.”
South Florida remains a likely place in the U.S. for a Zika virus outbreak by the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
The Zika virus has been linked to a range of birth defects, including a condition which causes children to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can lead to paralysis.
Currently, there are no native-borne cases in Florida. All infections involve travelers to South America.
Gov. Scott expressed concern that the Olympic summer games in Brazil will heavily increase travel to a country where the Zika virus is spreading rapidly.
“Like the movements of a hurricane, many things about the Zika virus are still unknown,” he said.
“We don’t yet know for certain what will happen with this virus, but we owe our citizens a vigorous and thorough preparation effort at the federal level to best protect their health.”