Public health officials brace for local outbreaks of Zika virus

State health department announces 3 new cases of virus in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state health department announced Friday three new cases of Zika virus in Florida -- two in south Florida and one near Tampa.

Florida still has the most cases than any other state with 175 patients, and 38 are pregnant women.

Public health officials are bracing for local outbreaks of the Zika virus as mosquito season gets underway.

Between January 1995 and March 2016, 1,241 counties from 40 states and the District of Columbia reported the occurrence of mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.

News4Jax spoke Friday with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson about his work to fight the spread of the virus.

"Don't go into a situation to where you are likely to be bitten, because that's where the tragedy occurs," Nelson said.

Nelson filed legislation to authorize an additional $130 million a year grant for local mosquito-control boards working to eliminate the species of mosquitoes responsible for spreading the Zika virus.

The type of mosquito that carries the virus is unique and thrives in urban areas.

"This mosquito, interestingly enough, likes to live indoors, and this mosquito, when it feeds, draws the blood of four human beings each time it bites one of us, and it transmits the Zika virus," Nelson said.

Nelson is also the lead sponsor of legislation to fully fund the president's request for $1.9 billion to stop the spread of the virus.

The newest numbers for south Florida showed two new cases -- one in Miami-Dade and one in Pasco County. The counties with the highest number of cases are Miami-Dade, Broward, and Orange counties.

Every case is travel-related, which means people contracted the virus outside of the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot release the location of the pregnant women with the virus, but the World Health Organization said people living in the areas where the Zika virus is circulating should consider delaying pregnancy for as long as three years to avoid birth defects.

The Duval County Health Department is trying to prepare city workers, such as the environmental staff and mosquito control, for a Zika outbreak.

It has the baggies available in the mayor's office for staff to educate themselves and arm themselves with some of the tools they need, such as repellent.

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