Zika Prevention in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Over the last two days, Hurricane Matthew pounded the east coast of Florida, bringing high winds and torrential rain. While the worst of the storm appears to be over, the recovery effort is just beginning. Fortunately, in times of crisis, Floridians step up and help one another. Already, we have seen neighbors helping one another clear debris and friends opening their homes to those left without power.

On Thursday and Friday, I visited a shelter for evacuees at Port Salerno Elementary School in Stuart. When many of these families left ahead of the storm, they didn’t know if they’d see their homes again. They didn’t know each other. But I saw neighbors helping neighbors because that’s what Floridians do. That’s who we are as Americans.

I’m confident that spirit will continue as Hurricane Matthew recedes.

As we begin to clean up our neighborhoods and secure our homes, we must remain vigilant for threats beyond downed trees and power lines: the Zika virus.

In September, Congress finally passed critical Zika funding to address this crisis. These funds should be immediately distributed to the research facilities, mosquito control boards, and local health departments working on the front lines to protect our families from this virus. Additionally, I have urged Governor Scott and state emergency officials to request federal emergency dollars for mosquito control in communities impacted by Hurricane Matthew. This public health crisis impacts all Floridians, requiring continued action and vigilance from all levels of government and all citizens.

We must all pitch in and do our part to protect our communities.

Any standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti, which carry the Zika virus. Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew’s torrential rains created pools of standing water scattered throughout Zika impacted communities.

In the days ahead, please be a good neighbor and drain any standing water you find. After all, the mosquito that carries Zika can breed in as little as a thimble of dirty water. In addition to pooled water, look for trash, yard debris, folded tarps, and other less-obvious water sources. You should also remember to wear mosquito repellent with DEET when you go outside.

As we continue fighting the Zika virus in Florida, we need to do everything we can to prevent Zika-infected mosquitoes from breeding. The simple action of draining standing water can help us fight this health crisis.

For the latest information on fighting Zika, see the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/protect-yourself-and-others.html. For helpful information to stay safe before, during, and after a hurricane, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

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