This morning, Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed that it is likely that Zika virus is actively being transmitted by local mosquitoes. The Florida Department of Health gathered enough information as part of its ongoing investigation into non-travel related cases of the virus in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to conclude that a high likelihood exists that four cases are the result of local transmission. Two of those cases are in Miami-Dade, and two are in Broward. The health department believes that active transmission is occurring in one area in Miami-Dade County, just north of downtown. They’re working to test neighbors and increase mosquito control in the impacted area, and continue prevention efforts around South Florida.
At this time, Baptist Health is operating at a level 3 activation (our lowest level of alert), which means we’re monitoring and assessing the event and collaborating with health officials. Our Emergency Preparedness and Security Department ― partnered with our Infection Control experts – is working closely with the local health department, which also links us to those at the state and federal levels.
As of yesterday, 383 cases of the Zika Virus have been confirmed in Florida.
Our blood provider resumed blood collection today, after being temporarily asked to suspend collections yesterday. The provider currently tests all donors for the Zika virus.
As you are probably aware, many patients with Zika have few or mild symptoms that may include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Yet there can be some serious consequences of the disease. Babies born to mothers who are infected while pregnant are at risk of microencephaly, a birth defect that causes abnormally small heads and a number of health concerns. In addition, a few patients have also suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder often accompanied by temporary paralysis. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika and no specific treatment for the illness. Patients are advised to rest, stay hydrated and take acetaminophen to reduce fever.
When patients come in to our facilities and meet the testing criteria, our infection control practitioners work quickly to receive approval for testing through the health department. Urine and blood tests that detect the virus are available, and results take several days to obtain. All positive results are reported as required to the county health department.
John Braden, M.D., our medical director for emergency preparedness, reports: “The number of cases continues to trickle in mostly being seen in the urgent care setting. We continue to closely follow any new developments through our health department contacts.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to areas with widespread Zika infection. Florida’s small case cluster is not considered widespread transmission. According to CDC guidance, providers should consider testing all pregnant women with a history of travel to a Zika-affected area. CDC recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds.
In addition, the Florida Department of Health suggests the following:
• Remove any standing water from small pools, bird baths, fountains, buckets or other containers that are outside around your home. Mosquitoes breed in these waters.
• Apply mosquito repellent and cover exposed skin, particularly when outdoors during times mosquitoes are most active.
• In Miami-Dade County, call 3-1-1 to report mosquito infestations in your neighborhood. In Broward County, call 954-765-4062. In Monroe County, go to www.keysmosquito.org.
• Consider postponing travel to countries where Zika is present.
• Good sites for Zika information and background are: http://miamidade.floridahealth.gov/, which gives the daily report from the Department of Health and www.cdc.gov/zika/. Florida also operates a Zika Virus Information Hotline at 1-855-622-6735.
If you have questions about Zika that relate to the workplace or your care of patients, talk to a member of the Infection Control or Emergency Preparedness staff. Watch for updates in your entity newsletters and on Baptist Health’s blogs at https://baptisthealth.net/baptist-health-news/.
As always, we’ll continue to keep you updated as this develops.