Miami's Mayor Warns North Texans to Prepare for Local Zika Cases

Miami's mayor is warning North Texans to be prepared for locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus to appear close to home.

"Be proactive. Start cleaning your yards, start informing the people," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado warned. "But do not create panic and do not allow the CDC to issue a ban to travel to Dallas."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to Miami's Wynwood neighborhood, where at least 14 cases of home-grown Zika have been reported.

Ground crews have been spraying the affected neighborhood all week, and aerial spraying took place Thursday morning over a 10 mile square mile area of Miami.

"I haven’t seen any mosquitoes for about a week and I’m outside every day," said Wynwood resident Joanna Pena. “I haven’t even been bit."

“Our concern more is what they’re spraying to kill the Zika, said another resident Frank Hernandez. "We’ve read that that can make people sick and I was actually sick about two days ago."

Florida’s Governor toured the Wynwood neighborhood Thursday morning, encouraging people other than pregnant women to visit the local businesses.

“I think people are doing the right thing," Governor Rick Scott said. "They’re getting rid of standing water. They’re using bug repellent, but we’re doing testing. We’re doing everything we can."  

Leading health experts in Texas are watching the developments in Miami.

“I don’t see how they think they can contain it there,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “There’s people leaving that Wynwood neighborhood every day with Zika virus in their bloodstream. So, I think we have to consider the whole Miami area at risk right now. I think the overwhelming emphasis needs to be on protecting pregnant women in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

The response to a local outbreak in Texas would be similar, with various government agencies working together to agree on the best course of action.

“Aerial spraying would be for us like it was in Miami, not the first tool that we would pick up, said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Right now, for everybody here in Texas, I would love for them to start wearing DEET like they’re wearing perfume," Hellerstedt said.

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