Florida calls for CDC backup to fight Zika as local cases rise

Florida calls for CDC backup to fight Zika as local cases rise
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is asking the federal government for emergency help to fight the Zika virus after the state on Monday reported another 10 cases likely spread by mosquitoes.

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A total of 14 people in Florida have contracted the Zika virus locally, which state and federal health officials have both said were likely from mosquitoes. Only two women have been infected.

Scott, who has long called for additional funding to fight Zika, is now requesting an emergency response team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The team would assist Florida health officials with their “investigation, research and sample collection efforts,” Scott wrote in a statement Monday.

The CDC is already warning women who are pregnant or could become pregnant to avoid “unnecessary travel” to the part of southern Florida that has reported the most cases. The Zika virus can cause birth defects in the newborns of women who become infected while pregnant.

More than 200 Floridians have been tested for Zika over the last three weeks, after the state health department began investigating possible local transmissions of the virus. A total of 2,300 people have been tested statewide since the outbreak began last year in South America.  

While Scott urged people — particularly pregnant women — to take precaution, he also took steps to protect the state’s tourism industry at the peak of the summer.

“Florida remains safe and open for business,” Scott said.

He emphasized that all 14 cases have been reported in the same square mile, just north of downtown Miami.