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Zika virus: Florida declares state of emergency

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The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in the four counties where people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

There have been nine people in total who have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in Florida, though health officials believe that all of them contracted the disease while outside of the US

According to a report by abc7ny.com on Thursday, Scott said he wanted the state to be prepared for the chance that the virus could start to be spread from mosquito to person within the state. The Aedes aegyptimosquito that is the primary vector of Zika virus infections is present in the southeast portion of the country, including Florida, though in winter the mosquito populations are low.

“Although Florida’s current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state,” Scott said in a statement on Thursday. “Our Department of Health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

He urged the citizens to be prepared for the worst even as they keep their hopes high for the best.

There have been no reports of the virus is being transmitted from mosquitoes to people in the U.S., though officials are concerned that small outbreaks could happen as the weather warms. A rare case of sexually transmitted Zika virus was reported in Dallas on Tuesday by the local health department.

Scott’s executive order requires the state health officer to “take any action necessary to protect public health” and allows the commissioner of agriculture to issue a “mosquito declaration” in the affected counties to reduce populations of the insects that can spread the disease.

Zika is a tropical, mosquito-borne virus that holds little danger for most people, but could completely derail the lives of some.

Most often, the virus which is sweeping Latin America causes only mild symptoms – with many people never even realising they have it.

But health officials suspect it may be behind a surge in cases of microcephaly, a condition which causes babies to develop abnormally small brains and skulls — leading to permanent disability or death.

The outbreak has seen some countries urging couples not to get pregnant, while the US Centers for Disease Control has warned pregnant women to avoid travelling to 22 affected nations, including Brazil which has reported more than 4000 cases of the virus since October 2015.

Though the World Health Organisation has not officially confirmed it, an Indian pharmaceutical firm is claiming to have developed the world’s first vaccine against the virus.

Head of the firm, Biotech International Limited, Dr. Krishna Ella, said at a news conference on Wednesday that it had already filed for a patent for the Zika vaccine.

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