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Zika Virus Bites Florida

The Zika Virus; you’ve heard about it, read about it and were probably concerned about it because of how close Florida is to Latin America, the amount of travelers we get from those countries, and our biggest industry, tourism.

Dr. Antonio Crespo, an infectious disease specialist at Orlando Health said, “[The spreading of the Zika virus is] a concern for us here because we are a major tourist destination for visitors from the epidemic areas.”

Well, now it has arrived.

In fact, as of August 2, 2016, the Florida Department of Health has reported 406 cases. That’s 336 travel-related cases, 15 non-travel related cases (which means its spreading from Floridian to Floridian), and 55 cases involving pregnant women [1].

The type of mosquito that is capable of carrying the virus, Aedes aegypti, is common in Florida as it is the same mosquito that has transmitted the tropical diseases of yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and most recently, West Nile. What is considerably the worst part of the virus is the effect it can have on newborns and their mothers.

Anyone who gets the virus may contract a high fever or rash, but for women who are pregnant, there is a possible linkage between Zika and microcephaly—a rare condition in which children are born with damaged, smaller-than-normal brains, leading to smaller heads.

Miami-Dade Hit the Hardest

Two of the first three Zika cases were in Miami-Dade County—the other was in Tampa—starting on January 18. Soon after, the Florida Department of Health started issuing almost daily updates with county-by-county counts of reported cases. Miami-Dade has had 102 cases, Broward 55, Hillsborough 10, Pinellas 7, and Pasco 6. The counties in which the pregnant cases exist has not been reported [2].

CDC Issues Warning

For the first time in history, the CDC issued a warning to pregnant women and their partners not to travel to a neighborhood just north of Miami, or its surrounding areas. This is the first time the CDC has issued a travel warning regarding an American neighborhood [3].

We at Dolman Law Group would like to inform you of the virus itself, along with prevention methods discussed by health officials to protect you and your family.

A Little History

The Zika virus is transmitted by certain mosquitoes through their bite, with symptoms of the disease lasting for about a week. These symptoms range from a fever and skin rash to conjunctivitis and muscle aches or pains. It can be hard to detect because of its similarities to the flu. It was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 when rhesus monkeys were experiencing it’s symptoms that were initially thought to have been linked to yellow fever. Over time, the virus spread to humans in 1952 in Uganda and the Untied Republic of Tanzania. Since then, outbreaks of Zika virus have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific [4].

Prevention

Currently there is no vaccine for the virus and the best known method of prevention is to guard against mosquito bites. According to Toronto researchers, more than 63% of the U.S. population lives in areas where Zika virus might spread during seasonally warm months. A little over 7% of Americans live in areas where the cold might not kill off the mosquito in the winter, leaving them vulnerable year round. Francisco Calderon, the spokesman for Miami-Dade Public Works, spoke to The Miami Herald about the disease stating, “Through outreach and public education efforts, we encourage residents to prevent mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water in and around their homes.”

Chief entomologist and vice president of the National Pest Management Association, Jim Fredericks said, “These mosquitoes are resourceful at breeding in containers, puddles, gutters, anything where water collects. And they have a short flight range, so they tend to stay around structures, homes, buildings and people.” He continued, “These are very aggressive daytime biters. They can live indoors and outdoors but need to be near people to feed.”

Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to Latin America—and now some parts of Florida—for the duration of their pregnancy or if they are thinking about getting pregnant. Health officials are still looking for vaccines or a strong indication of how to detect when someone has the disease.

Dr. Carina Blackmore, deputy state epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health said, “It’s a difficult disease to identify clinically because the symptoms are somewhat vague and flu-like. So we may have cases that we don’t detect or confirm. The state is working on educational materials for community physicians and public health departments so we can better identify cases.” In any case, doctors at the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg are following the developments of particular babies born with microcephaly to find any new information [5].

Microcephaly

Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which is a condition that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This unfortunate neurological disorder can cause severe developmental issues and sometimes death. From November 2015 to January 2016, Brazil saw about 4,180 cases of microcephaly in babies born to women who were infected with Zika during their pregnancies. To but that into perspective, CNN reported there were only 146 cases in 2014.

This is why several countries, including Brazil Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica have asked women to postpone their pregnancies when possible. In the United States, the CDC has advised pregnant women to suspend their travel to nearly two-dozen countries that have been hit with the virus. Additionally, the World Health Organization has urged people to help repent the virus’s spread by eliminating mosquitos’ breeding sites—such as containers that can amass water—as well as using repellants [6].

PAHO Statement on Zika Virus Prevention

To prevent or slow the spread of Zika virus and reduce its impact, the Pan American Health Organization recommends the following:

  • Mosquito populations should be reduced and controlled by eliminating breeding sites. Containers that can hold even small amounts of water where mosquitos can breed, such as buckets, flower pots or tires, should be emptied, cleaned or covered to prevent mosquitos from breeding in them. This will also help to control dengue and chikungunya, which are also transmitted by Aedes Other measures include using larvicide to treat standing waters.
  • All people living in or visiting areas with Aedes mosquitoes should protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets, especially during the day when Aedes mosquitos are most active.
  • Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites. Although Zika typically causes only mild symptoms, outbreaks in Brazil have coincided with a marked increase in microcephaly—or unusually small head size—in newborns. Women planning to travel to areas where Zika is circulating should consult a healthcare provider for close monitoring of their pregnancy. A decision to defer pregnancy is an individual one between a woman, her partner and her healthcare provider [7].

Why write about Zika?

Why choose to write about something like Zika at a law firm? The short answer is because it is important to our community. It also relates to other issues. The Zika virus causes microcephaly which can be a deadly and deforming condition. Another cause of this condition is concretely linked to toxic chemicals within pharmaceutical drugs. Now that microcephaly is becoming more researched and understood by the medical community, and the general public, it’s significant to also learn about all the causes of such a debilitating disease. One particular linkage between brain deformities, congenital heart defects and cleft palates finds Zofran possibly suspect.

Hundreds of woman who have filed Zofran lawsuits say that GlaxoSmithKline’s nausea drug, the world’s most popular pharmaceutical option for morning sickness, causes birth defects. Some major studies have found an increase in the rate of such aforementioned birth defects among babies exposed to Zofran. Therefore, not only should women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant avoid traveling to countries infected by the Zika virus, but they should also avoid taking GSK’s Zofran to prevent the same debilitating side effect of the Zika virus. Sometimes it doesn’t take an outside disease to affect our homes, it may well just be something we are doing willingly at the advice of our doctor.

If you or a loved one have taken Zofran and suspect that your child has defects linked to its usage, it is essential that you attain an experienced attorney who understands lawsuits against a major pharmaceutical company. Aside from the compensation for actual damages that you could receive, you may also be awarded a generous amount of punitive damages to legally “punish” GSK to help them learn their lesson. If you’d like to figure out whether or not you’re eligible to recover for your physical, mental, emotional, or financial losses related to Zofran and birth defects, feel free to call Dolman Law Group. We have knowledgeable product liability and defective medication attorneys ready to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation by calling (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/birth-injury-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2016/08/080216-zika-update.htmlhttp://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2016/08/080216-zika-update.html
[2] http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article66790817.htmlhttp://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article66790817.html
[3] http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/01/health/cdc-miami-florida-zika-travel-warning/
[4] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
[5] http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/concerns-over-zika-virus-in-florida-focus-on-protecting-against-mosquitoes/2262064
[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/25/zika-virus-outbreak-will-likely-spread-across-americas-who-says/
[7] http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11605&Itemid=0&lang=en