Escambia County Health Director Dr. John Lanza spoke to the Pensacola Rotary Club Tuesday on the Zika virus and the fight against it.
Lanza began his midday remarks at New World Landing downtown with a confession.
“This is a standard, Department of Health community Power Point that I have given many times before,” Lanza said. “So if you think there’s going to be some big scoop or something or other – there isn’t.”
That said, Lanza then began his 30-minute Power Point presentation which was basically "Zika 101" starting with the discovery of this particular Zika virus in Africa in 1947.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health has identified four additional people in Florida with the Zika virus, who likely contracted it through a mosquito bite. This brings to 21 the total of locally transmitted cases.
“We’ve allocated $26.2 million out of the state budget to help our local mosquito control efforts,” said Scott, who announced four new non-travel cases on Tuesday. “We’re so frustrated that the federal government hasn’t done more, [with] Congress going on recess.”
The state Department of Health still believes active transmissions are only happening within a one-square-mile area in the Wynwood arts district in North Miami.
While only 20 percent of men and non-pregnant women develop Zika symptoms, which are much like the flu, the main concern is infected pregnant women whose unborn children are in danger of microcephaly.
If pregnant women think they’ve been exposed to the virus, they can go to any county health department and be tested free of charge.
“We’re going to ask you some questions, especially if you become symptomatic and want testing,” said Lanza. “And of course we want to follow up with your obstetrician.”
Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson says from where he sits, there are greater concerns at this point than a virus that for the most part has remained downstate.
“I think we’ve got everything we need to do, we’ve got our hospital aware,” said Robinson. “But unlike some things like West Nile and encephalitis that can lead to death, the good news is if you’re not looking to be pregnant, it’s not going to risk your life, like some of the other diseases we have.”
There’s now a travel warning for pregnant women and their partners, not to travel to the Wynwood community while Zika is prevalent. This is the first such notice from the CDC regarding a neighborhood in the U.S., and fears of contracting an infectious disease there.