Wednesday, August 31, 2016

County playing coy with ZIKA information

I do not think the County Health Department is giving the citizens enough credit.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Here is an e-mail response to my recent post on ZIKA: ZIKA We should know where it is.

Pinellas county isn't taking this seriously. I'm 5 months pregnant and I called the national hotline and the Pinellas Health department Friday morning. I was told the hours of testing went until 4:30 and went on Friday at 3:30 to get tested and to get a prevention kit. I was then told that they don't do testing on Fridays or give kits without doing testing. Are the mosquitos taking this weekend off?

With the wet weather, everything around my house is a potential breeding zone. I had the sense to arm myself with repellant, but what about the other people? If my coworker goes to Clearwater beach and gets bitten by a mosquito that bit an infected person, I'm at risk. I have about 20 weeks to go and slathering myself and my husband in repellant daily for 20 weeks is not ideal. As the infection is close to me, the health department needs to be more responsive near me. 

For all the talk of preparation, genetically modified mosquitos and kits, I'm a pregnant woman on a peninsula on a peninsula, and the county has provided me with nothing to fight Zika but generally available mosquito avoidant advice through poorly informed call center reps. The general public needs to know what area to avoid before my neighbor goes fishing in Safety Harbor or takes her dog to Fort Desoto and gets bitten by an infected mosquito.

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I do not think the County Health Department is giving the citizens enough credit.

Most people are aware of the ZIKA virus and its potential side effects, and it just seems to me letting the citizens of Pinellas county know where the ZIKA cases are located could spurn some extra caution in those areas and probably County wide.

The experience of the commenter above calls into question how the County Health Department is handling this serious problem. The County commission and the Chairman along with the County administrator should take control of this problem and make sure information and help available.

Not testing on Friday for a problem this potentially serious problem and blowing off someone who is pregnant and concerned sounds alarmingly like Pinellas County bureaucratic BS.

It is time to stop hiding behind the political and medical double speak, let the public know what is going on and provide preventative and testing services when and where people need them. That is why we spend all that money on the County Health Department.

I hope we are not more worried about ZIKA's effect on tourism than we are about its effect on local public health.

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