TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a health emergency in four counties after nine people developed the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Health officials said none of the cases originated in Florida. All of the sickened contracted the disease while traveling outside of the United States to affected countries. None of the confirmed cases involve pregnant women. In most cases, illness related to Zika is mild, but the virus has been linked to a rare birth defects causing brain abnormalities.
The order allows the state's agriculture department to ramp up mosquito spraying in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa counties and allows the state's health department to seek further resources to fight the spread of Zika. The state health department said four cases have been reported in Miami-Dade, two each in Hillsborough and Lee and one in Santa Rosa.
"Although Florida's current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state," Scott said. "Our department of health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best."