In their second year combatting the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry it, state officials say they’re better prepared, but they’re also dealing with the consequences of infections, particularly among pregnant women.
Seven babies have been born so far in Florida with lifelong neurological complications, health officials revealed Tuesday. The first case was reported in June.
The whole point of mosquito control and education, “is protecting the unborn children,” said Gov. Rick Scott, who led a brief Zika preparedness discussion with local state officials at the Orange County Health Department. “We have to take care of pregnant women and children.”
State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip, who accompanied Scott, wouldn’t say where the afflicted babies live to protect their privacy. She said the state has hired additional staff to help the families navigate the health system and get the best care.
According to the state health department, more than 340 pregnant women have been infected with Zika since last year. The state hasn’t disclosed whether the women were infected locally or while traveling abroad, and how many of them have already given birth.
Not all babies exposed to the Zika virus in the womb develop neurological complications. The most recent national analysis showed that about 10 percent of babies were affected.
There have been fewer reports of travel-related cases compared with this time last year, although it’s too soon to tell whether that’s an indication of what’s to unfold in the coming months, they said.
Officials’ advice to fight the mosquitoes that carry Zika remains the same: get rid of sources of standing water around your home regularly, use mosquito repellent and wear protective clothing.