Florida is bracing for another round of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. In his proposed $83.5 billion budget released Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott included $1.9 million to fund 21 epidemiologists to work in county health departments, along with providing surveillance and outbreak control.
"It is important that the department has individuals at the local level who have the skills to perform epidemiological analyses as well as manage the large volume of day-to-day reportable diseases, outbreaks and emerging disease," the Department of Health said in a release tied to Scott's budget release.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told reporters on Tuesday he'd support efforts to prepare for the possibility that mosquitoes will again transmit the virus this year.
"We know that warm weather can bring that back out," Putnam said. "A state that had 105 million visitors last year can't tolerate a widespread epidemic of a disease that would keep families away."
Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. Last year the state reported 1,325 cases of Zika.