By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor
(Friday, September 2, 2016) – Since the first locally acquired cases were discovered in the Wynwood area of Miami, the Zika virus has dominated our local and national media. In addition to being your Mayor, I am also on the board and senior leadership team of OneBlood, a not for profit that is one of the largest blood collection and testing centers in the country.
At OneBlood, we routinely deal with issues associated with diseases that could affect the blood supply and public health. We started paying close attention to Zika several months ago when reports of the possibility for birth defects, particularly microcephaly, started coming from South America. Zika is very unique in that, other than women who are pregnant or are potentially trying to get pregnant, it does not pose a significant risk to the general population. Only approximately 20% of those affected experience symptoms. As of this writing, a small local outbreak of Zika has been confined to a small area in Wynwood. In total this amounts to 15 locally acquired cases in Florida.
Given our tropical climate, our state has one of the best health departments in the country for combatting and containing mosquito transmitted diseases. Within our City, an early understanding of the Zika virus from our state health department prompted us to act at the beginning of mosquito season. Our City Manager ensured that our building and code inspectors started aggressively pursuing standing water issues. Being vigilant about reducing standing water significantly reduces the potential for mosquito breeding. We also commenced treating areas that we knew would not remain dry such as storm water retention areas and drainage catch basins. Additionally, we contracted with an outside professional mosquito control company to commence spraying for mosquitoes throughout our entire city with additional emphasis on our parks. I am pleased to report that as of the date of this writing, we have had no reports of locally acquired cases of the Zika virus in our community. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all pregnant women to discuss the Zika virus with their healthcare provider and to stay away from identified areas with active local transmissions. These recommendations can be found at
cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/pregnant-woman.html. Your Mayor, City Commission and City Staff are being proactive to assist our county, state and federal efforts in mitigating the spread of this virus. Please visit this page on our website: www.sibfl.net/zika-virus-advisory-miami-dade-county and the Florida Department of Health floridahealth.gov/videos/drain-and-cover.html for more information about what all of us can do to stay vigilant.