Zika virus concern growing in South Florida

Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 04:14:07-05

The concern is growing is and so is the number of cases across South Florida.

The Zika virus is now being reported in two South Florida counties, Miami-Dade and Broward.

RELATED: More coverage of the Zika virus

The Health Department in Miami-Dade is taking action on two fronts. First, it is working to protect folks from getting the virus here at home. Second, it is making sure it is prepared if we get more travel related cases.

While all 12 cases reported in Florida have been travel related, the specific mosquito that carries the Zika virus can be found in South Florida. This is why the Health Department is communicating with state health officials to help the local mosquito control departments. The Health Department is also requesting more Zika test kits.

Officials are also spreading the word about how the public can help, like taking steps to drain and cover standing water. The most important message is there’s no reason to panic.

“If they have traveled and have symptoms, see your local physician,” said Lillian Rivera with the Miami-Dade branch of the Health Department. “Even if you don’t have symptoms and want to consult with your local physician do that. The Health Department is working with local hospitals to address everyones need.”

Zika is transmitted by a specific mosquito and can cause symptoms like fever and rash. The big concerns, however, are for pregnant woman with the possible connections between the Zika virus and birth defects.

Many cruise and airline companies are posting alerts online in case you may be traveling to impacted countries. Some are offering new itineraries or even refunds for at-risk travelers.

“The pregnant passenger needs a doctors note stating that she is pregnant and also stating that her doctor is concerned for her safety and her health,” said Alexis Aran Coello with American Airlines.

The most important safety tip is to protect yourself from mosquito bites by covering up and using repellant.