Local and state health officials say they are doing all they can to combat the spread of the Zika virus but it’s now up to Florida citizens to help hinder its spread.
“We have to be protective of ourselves – drain and cover. Take measures that you will not get bit by mosquitos. Those are personal responsibilities that we are drilling in on our 2.7 million residents,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
On Monday, 10 more people had contracted the virus bringing the amount of locally acquired cases to 14 in Miami-Dade and Broward County, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Gabriel Jean is one of the 14 local victims of Zika.
His daughter says he was recently notified he was infected with the virus.
“They make the test for my daughter and for me. And yesterday, the doctor called us and said the tests, I have the tests, and mine was good, my daughter’s was good, but my father, he has the Zika,” Jean’s daughter, Rosemary LaBranch, explained.
Jean’s daughter says her father felt like he had a cold but no fever, and he feels okay now.
The FDA has approved human testing for a possible Zika vaccine.
Inovio is one of dozens of companies trying to come up with a vaccine. It’s a DNA vaccine that’s never been commercially distributed before. The company says it may be ready to go by 2017.
Miami-Dade’s mosquito control agency and the state of Florida are on the frontlines of the fight – testing, trapping, spraying and then it’s back to the individual citizen to combat the virus.
“No standing water. No standing water. No standing water. No standing water in your home. No standing water around your house,” said Gov. Rick Scott on Monday.
“DOH has been testing individuals in three locations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties for possible local transmissions through mosquito bites. Based on DOH’s investigations, two locations have been ruled out for possible local transmissions of the Zika virus,” said Scott in a statement. “DOH believes local transmissions are still only occurring in the same square mile area of Miami.”
Among the 10 new individuals announced Monday, six are asymptomatic and were identified from the door-to-door community survey that DOH is conducting.
Following the revelation, Gov. Scott called upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to activate an Emergency Response Team to assist the state’s health department, and other partners, in their investigation, sample collection, and mosquito control efforts. About eight teams in total will be in South Florida.
“Their team will consist of public health experts whose role is to augment our response efforts to confirmed local transmissions of the Zika virus,” said Scott.
Scott said women who live in or near the area where the cases have been detected should take extra precautions.
“While we continue to learn more about this virus each day, we know that it is most harmful to pregnant women and their babies. For women who live or work in the impacted area and are either pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, I urge you to contact your OB/GYN for guidance and to receive a Zika prevention kit,” said Scott.
Kari Vidal used to live in Wynwood, which is ground zero for the virus. She’s expecting her second son in October.
Despite the popularity of Wynwood, known for being a trendy arts area, pregnant women are being urged not to go there. There is nothing more frightening than if you are expecting right now.
“I’m 28 weeks pregnant and I don’t want to take any risks at all,” said Vidal. “It’s definitely difficult going through a pregnancy in the heat of the summer and now, mosquitos are everywhere. You can get a bite in your car, walking to your car, even in your own house sometimes.”
She added: “I’m very concerned about my husband as well. I have gotten him his own bottle of repellent and we are taking all the necessary precautions. As far as I understand, he could get it and we wouldn’t even know.”
“If you take common sense precautions, mosquitoes will not bite you. Do not go outside when they are active, early morning or evening. Wear protective clothing wear mosquito repellent and you are going to be prepared,” warned Mayor Gimenez.
The state’s health department has conducted testing for the Zika virus for more than 2,300 people statewide. Since the investigation began into possible local transmissions of Zika on July 7th, more than 200 individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been tested for the virus who live or work near the individuals that have already been confirmed with likely mosquito-borne transmissions. Of the 14 individuals identified, two are women and 12 are men.
The exact location of where health department believes there are active transmissions of the Zika virus is within the boundaries of the Wynwood area: NW 5th Avenue to the west, US 1 to the east, NW/NE 38th Street to the north and NW/NE 20th Street to the south.
The Wynwood crowds were a little thin on this hot and rainy August Monday night. It’s hard to tell if the Zika concerns are having an impact.
“I don’t think much about it. Don’t worry about it. I have not seen many cases,” Ernesto Novelvilla told CBS4’s Hank Tester.
“No worries, no concerns?” Tester pressed the group.
“We are not worried about it,” a young lady said laughing.