Gulf Coast states react to growing cases of Zika virus

There are now more than 50 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. although many of the cases are located in just two states: Texas and Florida

These states have something in common: a warm climate. Experts fear states along the Gulf Coast could be especially at risk because of that.

The number of cases in Florida jumped to 12 Thursday, up three from the day before. And people in the Sunshine State seem to be panicking. (Video via WFTX)

The virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in newborns in Brazil, prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in five counties.

The declaration basically allows the state to stock up on tests that would help doctors diagnose the virus more quickly. It also instructs counties to spray for mosquitoes

So far there haven’t been any reports of infected mosquitoes in Florida. Rather, all the patients with the Zika virus acquired it while traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean

The same is true in Texas, for the most part. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, nine people were reportedly infected while traveling abroad and a 10th contracted the disease through sexual contact with an infected person. Again, no infected mosquitoes.

Although seven cases have been confirmed in one Texas county alone, Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t issued any emergency declarations. 

But Abbott did announce he has created a Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response — a step some say is important, especially in the months to come. (Video via KVUE)

“As we head toward the springtime, if we have a lot of people infected with Zika, either because they’re imported cases or sexually acquired cases, if you will, that may trigger the mosquitoes to get infected with the virus and start that transmission cycle,” Dr. Jeffrey Kahn told KXAS.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.