BLOG: Wolf Administration Release Zika Response Plan (Round-up)

By: Eryn Spangler, Press Assistant

May 13, 2016

Yesterday, Governor Wolf announced his administration’s Zika Response Plan to better protect all Pennsylvanians from the Zika virus.

The Pennsylvania Zika Virus Response Plan, developed by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Environmental Protection, outlines the phases of education, surveillance, and response activities that will occur for various levels of mosquito activity within the commonwealth as well as triggers based on the presence of Zika disease within our state. The phases range from the current situation of a moderate level of travel-associated cases to potential widespread local transmission by mosquitos.  Pennsylvania has requested funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement this plan.

“My administration is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” said Governor Wolf. “We are continuing to work with our partners on the local, state, and federal levels to keep Pennsylvania safe. The roll-out of this plan is another proactive step in our collaborative strategy to protect our citizens and prevent the spread of the Zika virus.”

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy and Secretary of Environmental Protection John Quigley held a joint press conference call yesterday to discuss the Governor’s response plan.

“DEP and our county partners are focused on monitoring for the presence of mosquitos potentially associated with Zika transmission and implementing control measures when necessary,” said Secretary Quigley. “We are working very closely with the Department of Health to ensure the safety of our citizens.”

“Zika generally causes very mild symptoms and rarely leads to serious side effects in those who become ill with the virus,” said Secretary Murphy. “However, pregnant women and those of childbearing age are at greatest risk as Zika is known to potentially cause serious and even fatal birth defects in some babies born to women infected with the virus during pregnancy. This plan will help ensure we have the measures in place to better inform and protect all of our residents.”

Take a look at the additional coverage below:

TribLive: Wolf rolls out Zika plan for Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday his office plans to work with the state Health Department in developing a method to test residents for the Zika virus without using federal laboratories in Atlanta. A state-run testing system would speed up results to about two weeks from the current four to five weeks, said state Secretary of Health Karen Murphy.

Fox 43: Wolf Administration Increases Zika Surveillance Plans: Risk of Contracting Virus in Commonwealth Currently Very Low

“This Zika Virus Response Plan will better help us protect the health of the more than 12 million people who call Pennsylvania home,” said Secretary of Health Karen Murphy.

Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania prepares strategy to fight Zika virus this summer

“Because of the implications of this disease, we want to be prepared,” said Karen Murphy, the state health secretary. The virus has appeared in at least 17 cases in Pennsylvania since January, all tied to travel to Zika-affected areas abroad such as Central and South America, according to her department.

Bucks County Courier Times: Pennsylvania has a new plan to target Zika virus, mosquitoes

Developing a plan to test blood samples for Zika at the state level will allow for faster turnaround, with results available in about seven to 14 days, Murphy said. That’s compared with four to five weeks for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratories, which currently processes Zika tests for Pennsylvania. “It’s important for the level of anxiety, number one, to know faster,” [Secretary] Murphy said. “People want to know as fast as they can.”

Philly.com: As weather warms, Pa. prepares for Zika

If mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are found in any significant numbers, an eradication campaign would become very personal, said John Quigley, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “We will literally have to go house to house, yard to yard,” [Secretary] Quigley said. “It is very much a ground-troop-oriented approach. And that is why it is so important that the public help us,” he added, by getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed.

York Dispatch: Wolf steps up Zika surveillance in Pa.

In order to better protect the public, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will enhance surveillance for Zika cases in Pennsylvanians. The Department of Environmental Protection will increase vector surveillance and control of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the area. Educating the public is also an important point to the Zika Virus Response Plan.

WTAJ: Curbing the Zika Virus in PA

Governor Tom Wolf’s Administration is now preparing a strategy to fight the Zika Virus this summer. Planned measures to curb the virus include mosquito monitoring for every county in the state. The Governor also announced on Thursday, that Pennsylvania may spray pesticides near homes of people with the virus.

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