"We have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state," Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release.
Four cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been detected in Miami-Dade, and another five have popped up elsewhere in the state. All patients had recently traveled to Latin America and the Caribbean.
So what exactly does a public health emergency mean? It allows the state’s agriculture department to spray more heavily in the affected counties. It also gives the Florida Department of Health more autonomy to prepare and ask for help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If contracted, Zika is a relatively mild disease. Only about one in five people have symptoms. Those who do usually develop a fever, a rash, and some pain. The symptoms mostly subside within a week. We're not talking Ebola levels of
A recent outbreak of the virus in the Caribbean and Latin America has coincided with a wave of birth defects in Brazil;
People are usually infected through mosquito bites, but the disease can be sexually transmitted as well.
"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)," Scott said. "We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best.”