The first US report of Zika that occurred in Florida has yet to see a dedicated team of disease hunters to help with the investigation. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to get involved since the July 19th report of the case. They have largely been involved from a distance.
Florida does have a record of managing limited outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses in the past, which include chikungunya and dengue. Both can cause birth defects and now Zika adds to the urgency of the CDC’s involvement. Other states have called on the disease control group immediately to help with high-profile disease issues.
Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor Dr. Peter Hotez, stated that there is only a “small window” in which to prevent outbreaks from becoming larger issues. He expressed his impatience with the Zika case and the CDC’s lack of immediate involvement.
The Zika outbreak began in Brazil where it was medically linked to microcephaly, a birth defect, in over 1,700 cases. Florida Governor Rick Scott stated that the CDC is working with the state’s health department to speed up the Zika investigation. He confirmed that the CDC is coordinating closely. The state has not yet formalin invited the CDC emergency team of experts, however. These experts focus on vector control, logistics, risk communication and epidemiology.
The CDC spokesperson stated that these teams will help local medical officials to contain viruses and track them effectively. For example, a team was sent to Utah this month to find out how one case was Zika-infected. Also, the team worked to contain Ebola in 2014.
Mara Gambineri, Florida health department spokeswoman, stated that if the state needs further assistance they will proactively reach out. The CDC responded they if they are invited, they already have a team that is ready to go.