Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No Zika Cases in Sarasota County Yet | but Health Officials Are Tracking Cases as They Creep Closer

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No Zika Cases in Sarasota County Yet | but Health Officials Are Tracking Cases as They Creep Closer

Article excerpt

ZIKA PREPAREDNESS

SARASOTA -- The Zika virus has not landed in Sarasota County yet, but local health officials are tracking potential cases "daily" and preparations for an eventual case already are in place.

As of Monday afternoon, 276 confirmed cases have been reported across the state, and they are creeping closer to Sarasota, said Charles Henry, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.

Manatee County reported its first case on Friday, and Charlotte County saw its first case about two weeks ago, Henry told the City Commission during an update on local preparations for the virus. No cases in Florida or nationwide have been transmitted locally -- all were infected in other countries and brought the virus back, he emphasized.

"It wouldn't alarm me to see one in Sarasota, given the travelers we have," he said. "I think we would be most concerned at the next turn if there was a confirmed in-state transmission. All of the state's resources would be focused in that area very rapidly in an effort to eliminate any sustained local transmission. We would eliminate the vectors (of virus-carrying mosquitoes) ... work with people almost door-to-door."

When the virus does land in Sarasota County, an extensive network of testing, monitoring and exterminating is already in place to respond immediately, Henry said.

When a sick person is suspected of having the virus, a test is taken to verify if it is Zika, and the county's mosquito control simultaneously goes out to the area around that person to capture and test the Aedes mosquito that carries the virus, according to health department documents. A state of emergency declared earlier this year for the virus also requires local health officials to report such incidents to other state agencies, Henry added.

"As soon as that's known and a test goes out, communication goes all the way up to the state epidemiologist," Henry said. …

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