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Vern Buchanan advises readiness as Sarasota confirms first Zika case

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As state officials confirmed the first Zika case in Sarasota County, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged Suncoast residents Tuesday to take common-sense steps to prevent infections.

“All Floridians must take immediate action to protect themselves and prevent Zika from spreading any further,” Buchanan said. “My state is in crisis mode. Families and business owners cannot overlook the very real threat this virus poses to public health.”

Florida is ground zero for the Zika virus. On Friday, the Florida Department of Health released a report confirming the first travel-related case of Zika occurred in Sarasota County. Cases have been reported in 35 of Florida’s 67 counties, including Manatee County which has two travel-related infections.

According to the state’s health department, there are 420 travel-related Zika cases, in addition to the 30 infections that are likely the result of infected mosquitoes, making Florida the only state in the nation with confirmed local transmission of the disease. Across Florida, 59 pregnant women are infected with the virus.

Buchanan also announced the launch of a Zika Preparedness section on his website –

Visitors to the site will find information on signs and symptoms for identifying the virus, tips on preventing mosquito bites and keeping them from entering your homes and businesses, and helpful links to state and federal resources.

Signs and symptoms of Zika infection may include: a mild fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, body aches, headache, eye pain and vomiting. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that many people infected with Zika virus will not have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. However, pregnant mothers and babies can exhibit much more severe warning signs.

If you develop these symptoms and you’ve been in an area with Zika present, see a health care provider – especially if you are pregnant. The CDC advises that you should be sure to tell your doctor or other health care provider where you traveled.

“The situation in Florida has escalated and experts are diligently working to stop the virus from spreading,” Buchanan said. “But containing this virus isn’t just up to health officials – it’s up to all of us. Floridians need to step up to the plate and safeguard their loved ones from Zika while the summer heat worsens.”

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, health experts recommend residents and travelers to use insect repellent and drain any water collected in garbage cans, gutters, pool covers or any other containers so mosquitoes will have fewer places to breed. In order to keep mosquitoes outside buildings, the Congressman also urged Floridians to use screens on windows, doors, porches and patios and be sure to keep them sealed.

The CDC reports there are 1,962 reported cases of Zika in the U.S.

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