Local doctor says there’s hope in Zika fight

AP file photo

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – People are anxious to find out when and if Zika will impact them after a new urgent warning about the spread of the virus and its impact on Gulf Coast cities.

“I’m a little bit worried about catching it but I wear long sleeves so I hopefully don’t get bitten too often,” said Drew Yutzy, who works outside at Tampa’s Family Friendly Farm on Westshore Boulevard. “I’m more concerned for my wife when she does get pregnant so I’ll be keeping her safe,” Drew said.

The concern is growing after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week Zika is “scarier than thought.”

“I am very worried that in the areas of extreme poverty, in poor neighborhoods in US Gulf Coast cities, such as Houston, New Orleans, maybe Tampa, That we are highly vulnerable to seeing Zika virus transmission leading to microcephaly cases,” Dr. Peter Hotez at the Baylor College of Medicine told NBC News.

But in Tampa, University of South Florida infectious disease doctor Beata Casanas told News Channel 8 there is hope.

“We have experience with different similar viruses such as dengue, where we were successfully able to eradicate the beginnings of an outbreak. So there is no reason for us to be successful again with a virus this time,” said Dr. Casanas, who is based at Tampa General Hospital.

The CDC is asking for $1.8 billion to help fight the spread of the virus.

“I think we should be concerned,” Congressman David Jolly said.

“The Republicans in the House, on the appropriations committee where I serve, asked the president to re-designate $600 billion in Ebola funding to fight Zika,” said Jolly, R-Pinellas County. “We will consider that. This is not a partisan issue, this is about getting it right.”

“Florida has to lead. It would have a disparate impact on the State of Florida, on our economy, on the population,” Jolly said.

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