Rick Scott Declares State of Emergency Over Zika Virus

Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t taking any chances with the Zika virus. He officially declared a health emergency in four counties today where cases of the disease have already appeared, The Associated Press reports.

The disease, which has been linked to birth defects, is spread by mosquitoes. If there’s one thing the Sunshine State has a buttload of—even more than insane news stories—it’s mosquitoes.

As of last week, Zika had been detected in 31 U.S. states, but every one of those cases, including nine in Florida, are believed to have been contracted by traveling to places in Latin America and the Caribbean where Zika is already in the mosquitoes.

The good news is that across the U.S., even in sunny Florida, it’s still too cold for mosquitoes right now. The problem: That’s going to change very soon, which means that the disease has the potential to spread. There’s also the lesser risk of transmitting Zika through sex.

“We have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state,” Scott said in a statement. “We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best.”

Declaring an emergency gives state agencies, such as the department of agriculture and health departments, more freedom to deal with the disease as they see fit.

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