Governor addresses Zika-related birth defect case in Florida

Mother from Haiti came to Florida to deliver baby born with microcephaly

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health confirms the first Zika-related case of microcephaly in a child born in Florida the same day Gov. Rick Scott held meetings with health officials in Jacksonville and across the state.

The mother, a citizen of Haiti, came to Florida to deliver her baby and the department is working with the family to connect the child to health services in the weeks and months to come.

“Now that a baby has been born in our state with adverse impacts from Zika, it is clear that every available resource is needed to prevent local transmissions in our state," Scott said.

Scott told a roundtable meeting at the Duval County Health Department on Tuesday that it's important for people to protect themselves and take steps to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

"We're in hurricane season. We're in rainy season. We've got these Olympics coming up in 40 days," Scott said during the roundtable discuss. "If you follow what's going on, whether it's Puerto Rico or Brazil or other places, this is a significant issue. ... Clearly an issue that if we do the right things, we can control the spread of Zika."

Panelists at Tuesday's meeting emphasized they are taking an aggressive approach, including what they call “hand-to-hand” spraying to kill the type of mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus.

Health officials' No. 1 tip for residents is to empty any standing water that has collected around homes and businesses. Then go a step further and wipe out the container.

Their other tip is to wear mosquito repellant when outside, especially in the morning and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

With the confirmation of the microcephaly case, Scott called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to host a call with Florida medical professionals, including OBGYNs and physicians specializing in family medicine, to discuss the neurological impacts of Zika and what precautions new and expecting mothers should take. 

The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika-affected areas. According to CDC guidance, providers should consider testing all pregnant women with a history of travel to a Zika-affected area for the virus. CDC also recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds.

“It is heartbreaking to learn that a baby has been born with Zika-related microcephaly in our state and my thoughts and prayers are with the mother and child," Scott said. 

Microcephaly is a birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Babies with the defect often have a range of problems including developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems.

Scott said after lawmakers failed to approve funding for Zika preparedness las week, he used his emergency executive authority to allocate $26.2 million in state funds for Zika preparedness, prevention and response in Florida.

"While these funds will be incredibly useful in our fight against the Zika virus, Washington must also recognize that Zika is not just a Florida issue, but a national emergency," Scott said. "Florida has continued to step-up and fund issues when the federal government has failed to show up and Washington has to stop playing politics with the health, safety and wellbeing of Florida’s families."

Senate votes down Zika funding bill

The U.S. Senate voted down a $1.1 billion Republican-drafted Zika funding bill Monday that had been passed by the U.S. House last week.

By a vote of 52-48, the measure, which the White House threatened to veto, failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, the lead sponsor of a measure that would have provided the full $1.9 billion the president requested, voted against the bill. Nelson spoke on the Senate floor prior to the vote.

“Why can't we grow up and get to the point that we don't want to play partisan politics?” Nelson said. “We need to stop playing these political games. It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it.”

Zika Virus Around the World | HealthGrove