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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Florida Braces For Zika Virus

UM's Mario Stevenson (left) examines the new Zika virus detection test at his team's Miami lab. (Tim Padgett/WLRN)

UM’s Mario Stevenson (left) examines the new Zika virus detection test at his team’s Miami lab. (Tim Padgett/WLRN)

Four counties in Florida are under a health emergency today after cases of the mosquito-borne Zika illness were detected in the state. The virus is linked to brain deformities in babies and is primarily spread through mosquitoes that bite the pregnant mother. Investigators have also been exploring the possibility it could be contracted through sex.

Florida health officials believe all of the cases are from people who contracted the disease while traveling to affected countries, but they say the state is likely to see some locally-acquired Zika cases, given the high amount of international traffic coming in and out of South Florida.

The declaration of a public health emergency allows the state’s agriculture department to use mosquito spray more in those areas. It also directs the Florida Department of Health to make its own decisions about what’s needed from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tim Padgett from Here & Now contributor WLRN reports on the research underway in Miami to identify Zika and prevent its spread.

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