Florida is in the headlines this week after an outbreak of the Zika virus. The Florida Department of Health has identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes At least 14 people have been infected. This is the first locally transmitted Zika outbreak in the continental United States. A travel advisory has now been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning pregnant women from visiting an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission in northern Miami, Florida. Florida and Texas (and some parts of Hawaii) are some of the hotspot states where residents are vulnerable to Zika because the Aedes species mosquito has been known to dwell in these states. Yet, resources to prepare for a Zika outbreak are tight. Congress adjourned for the summer without an agreement to fund a response to Zika [see Health Centers on the Hill post]. States are now going it alone in preparing a response to Zika.
That is what brings us to Texas. Earlier, we wrote on this blog about efforts in the Lone Star state to prepare for Zika locally acquired Zika. The Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) and a coalition of state and national organizations have sounded the alarm to health officials that vulnerable populations are especially at risk for Zika because they typically lack access to health services and/or insurance coverage, live in poor housing conditions (such as no air conditioning or window screens and lack resources to purchase protective items, such as mosquito repellant. Recently, we spoke with two health centers in the Houston area who are on the frontlines of Zika preparedness: Dr. Kavon Young, Medical Director of El Centro De Corazon, and Kevin Nix, Senior Director of Communications at Legacy Community Health. Listen below.