Zika Outbreak Update

We've got good news and bad news. The good news is that, in mid-November, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that they do not consider Zika to be a “public health emergency of international concern” anymore. While that's a relief on a global front, the bad news is that Zika virus is still very present in the Miami area, and WHO says that going forward, places like Miami that are seeing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes should consider and treat Zika like malaria or yellow fever: something of which to be responsibly aware, and something that is likely to spread during the warmer months. As of November 16, Florida has 139 reported cases of locally transmitted Zika cases, and remains the only state in the union with reported cases of local transmission. That number is up from 4 in July.

In August, pregnant women and their partners were cautioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) not to visit the north Miami neighborhood of Wynwood due to the virus's being responsible for causing microcephaly and other severe brain defects in fetuses. In mid-September, federal officials declared that area free of active transmission.

Miami Beach was the site of the first real scare in the spring, yet Zika has not yet been eradicated from the area. It was reported in October that a 4.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach covering most of South Beach and Middle Beach is home to the virus, amid concerns of further spreading. The CDC is still warning pregnant women to stay away from the area, specifically mentioning the importance of avoiding Art Basel, despite its being touted by many as North America's most significant international modern and contemporary art fair.

Miami's Little River neighborhood is also reporting Zika cases between Northwest 79th and 63rd Streets from Northwest 10th Avenue to North Miami Avenue, and it is likely to spread. Officials warn residents that because the virus is likely on the move, they should take precautions, even if they are outside the new Zika zone. Unlike Wynwood, Little River is mostly residential, and St. Mary's Cathedral, Athalie Range Park, and Miami Northwestern and Miami Edison high schools are all on the border.

Currently, the city is looking for effective mosquito control that will have widespread community support. Although naled has been used to kill adult mosquitoes in Miami Beach and Wynwood, officials are searching for nontoxic alternatives in an attempt to address the population's concerns over the use of insecticides. One suggestion is the release of thousands of genetically engineered mosquitoes that will mate with non-GMO mosquitoes and produce offspring that die before adulthood. Another possibility is using mosquitoes infected with a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia that stops the insects from transmitting viruses.

Florida has earmarked $61 million in state funding so far for Zika response and research. It has also requested the maximum assistance from these federal sources:

  • Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Disease (ELC) Zika Supplemental
  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Zika Supplemental
  • Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Supplemental
  • Birth Defects Registry Supplemental
  • Federal CMS Supplemental.

Here at Stabinski Law, we care about our community and want you to stay safe. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, we have helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies for over 45 years. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.

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