With Zika on ‘doorstep’ USF officials planning fight

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As two new non-travel related cases of Zika have emerged in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, researchers at the University of South Florida are meeting Friday to discuss combating the virus. 

  • USF Health hosting "Zika at Our Doorstep: An International Public Health Conversation" today
  • Local health and city officials to discuss combating the virus
  • Lawmakers and officials also will tour USF labs working on Zika fight

Health officials at USF are calling the meeting a "Public Health Conversation," which will include people from across the Bay area. Officials from Tampa International Airport, the Port of Tampa, area hospitals, doctors, lawmakers and tourism agencies will be involved in the meeting to talk about protecting the public from the dangerous virus.

Zika is a type of mosquito-borne virus that has been traced to microcephaly (an abnormally small skull), a serious birth defect in new born babies. The disease is particularly dangerous to pregnant women.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika to be an international public health emergency.

  • Total number of Florida cases of Zika now at 35
  • 2 new potential cases of Zika being investigated in Miami Beach
  • Zika: What you need to know

"Zika really is at our doorstep right now and it’s a tremendous public health concern," said Dr. Edmund Funai, the Chief Operating Officer at USF Health.

Funai is moderating today’s meeting. State representatives Kathy Castor and David Jolly also will participate.

The meeting comes as health officials in South Florida work to contain transmission of the virus in Miami neighborhoods.

Gov. Rick Scott said Miami-Dade County has requested funding for more staff and mosquito traps. Scott said health officials will send additional commercial pest control companies to help local mosquito control operations and "ensure the county has every possible tool to fight."  

"This is a virus that has been around, or identified, as long as 60 years ago, but it is truly accelerated," Funai said. "We’re not clear on why that’s really happened, but frankly, it’s exceptionally concerning because there aren’t too many viruses or organisms in the world that are known to cause birth defects, very very few."

Bay News 9 – news

August 19, 2016 |

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