Update on potential for storm development and the Zika virus

As you know, this blog serves as a vehicle for communications on all crises and other topics that may be of concern to our community. Today, there are two situations that we’re monitoring, and that are important for us to stay aware of. The first is a storm system with a chance of developing into something of concern for us in South Florida; and the second is the Zika virus.

Invest 99-L

A tropical disturbance churning in the Caribbean could pose a threat to Florida. The National Hurricane Center says the system has a medium to high chance of development into a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next two to five days. Today, forecasters reduced the percent chance that it would develop over the next five days to 70 percent- down from yesterday’s 80 percent.  The Miami Herald reports that Florida is likely to feel some effects from the storm, though it is still too early to tell what those might be.

As always, we’ll watch this storm and keep you up to date on the very latest news. We will make a decision in the coming days as to whether we’ll need to activate our incident command center, but now is a good time to make sure you know what your plan for a storm would be – both at work and at home.  If you’re unsure about your department’s protocol, please speak with your manager. Personally, please review your plan for yourself and your family – where will you go if a storm hits? Do you have necessary supplies? What preparations will you make? The National Hurricane Center’s hurricane preparedness website is a great place to go to help you start to answer some of those important questions.

Zika

The number of non-travel-related cases of the Zika virus continues to grow in our state. This week, state health officials announced the first non-travel-related case of the virus outside of South Florida.  The new case was found in Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, near Tampa. The health department is investigating this case, as well as several others, but officials still believe ongoing active transmission is taking place only within the identified areas of Wynwood and Miami Beach. The latest numbers, out today, show 534 travel-related cases of Zika in the state, 43 non-travel-related cases and 70 cases involving pregnant women.

At this time, we continue to be on a level 3 activation, which means we are closely monitoring the situation and responding accordingly. We’re in constant communication with our local health department, physician leaders, infection control staff and other experts to ensure that we have the latest information and appropriate response and resources for our patients.

Dr. Lillian Rivera, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County, has told us that the most important message to get out to the community continues to be that of prevention. Each person doing his or her part to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate standing water can go a long way in stopping the spread of the virus. Here are more prevention tips from the CDC.

Thank you,

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Zika Virus Update #2

As you know, news around the Zika virus is evolving quickly. Today, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order to declare a public health emergency in four counties, including Miami-Dade, due to the Zika virus. At least nine cases of the mosquito-borne illness have now been confirmed in the state — four of those in Miami-Dade County. All of these cases are believed to have been contracted abroad, and none involve pregnant women. “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,” said Gov. Scott in announcing the order. His action allows the state’s agriculture department to provide additional mosquito control measures in affected areas. It also directs the Florida Department of Health to make determinations as to what resources and information are needed in the state to combat the spread of Zika.

Earlier this week, health officials in Texas reported that the first known case of Zika contracted in the United States was a person infected after sexual contact with somebody who had become infected abroad. The CDC is working to learn more about how the virus can be transmitted.

Just as the state and CDC are taking measures to stay ahead of the virus and educate people as much as possible- so should we. Our community looks to us as a resource for education and reassurance, and I want you to know that we are doing all we can to learn about this virus and prepare for the safety of our employees and patients.

Personally, we can all take measures to protect ourselves by avoiding mosquitoes. To learn more about the CDC’s recommendations, click here. The most important thing about this declaration of a public health emergency is that it is based on the uncertainty of this situation. For example, when we communicated last on this, there was no documented person-to-person transmission, now there has been. Things are going to likely change from day to day and week to week for some time to come. As a system, we continue to follow national and international guidance, and work closely with the health department to ensure we have the latest information and protocols. At this point, we are not activating our incident command centers, but we are following this situation very closely. As always, we’ll keep you informed.

Wayne Brackin

Monitoring the Zika Virus

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects including microcephaly in babies born to mothers who were infected during pregnancy, is causing concern among health officials from around the world, and continuing to make headlines. The virus has been widely covered in the media. And, as news about this virus evolves, we are responsible for focusing on the facts and making sure we are informed and prepared.

While we do not yet understand the full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy, nor the factors that might increase risk to the fetus, here is what we do know:

Local transmission of the virus has not been documented in the continental United States, but has been identified in more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that until more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women, and women planning to become pregnant, who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis); however, the CDC estimates 80 percent of people infected with the virus have no symptoms. There is no specific antiviral treatment for this virus.

“From a global perspective, the medical community has the technology to know where there is an outbreak and how it is spreading, so it gives us an opportunity to prepare,” said Dr. John Braden, Baptist Health South Florida’s Director of Emergency Preparedness. “We will continue to monitor and gather data to continue to manage this effectively.”

As a healthcare system, we are watching the spread of this virus and working closely with the health department to ensure we have the latest information. The CDC has developed guidelines for health care providers in the U.S. caring for patients during this outbreak. We are following those guidelines. As always, our patients go through a screening process which includes travel history. Based on travel information and symptoms, we work with the health department to determine whether or not patients need to be tested for the virus, and treat them appropriately.

Dr. Jorge Perez, medical director of neonatal intensive care at South Miami Hospital and chairman of South Miami Hospital’s Center for Women and Infants says: “we are looking at the protocols the CDC is recommending and keeping up to date with the data and the countries that are affected.”

Additional studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection. For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.

As always, we will keep you informed as we learn more about the virus and its effects.

Wayne Brackin

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This year here in Delaware, we landed three bass in one day on big spinnerbaits, that went seven and eight pounds. Sometimes we even break off the tails of worms for trailers, and many times in the spring, I have caught some huge bass from ten inches of muddy water with a big spinnerbait with a trailer. We have had a great response from bass in the Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania areas, using a double golden shiner skirt.

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First Storm of the Season

Welcome back. Our first hurricane of the 2015 season has emerged.

Hurricane Danny has jumped up as a small, unpredictable, but fairly strong (for the moment) Category 2 hurricane. It has been called mini, micro, and a tiny hurricane, but the small size also makes it more difficult than normal to apply the tracking models to it.

Let’s keep our many friends, family, and patients in mind in the Caribbean as they prepare for a potentially messy week. A small but wet storm will actually be welcome in the islands as many have been suffering drought conditions this year, particularly Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands will be first up, and we will be thinking of our colleagues at Schneider Regional Hospital in St. Thomas.

Predictions are that this small storm is likely to weaken over the next few days, and may drop below hurricane strength over the weekend. I expect it not to be a factor for us here in South Florida, but they call it unpredictable for a reason. As the first storm of another quiet season, the media attention will be heightened, and unnecessarily increase anxiety in the community.

Review your plans for both work and home, but expect it to be business as usual for Baptist Health South Florida.

“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one
And we’ve just begun”

Danny’s Song-Loggins and Messina

Wayne Brackin

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