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Florida Health Authorities Issue Warning For Tourists As Virus Cases In The Region Rise Up To 22

Update Date: Feb 19, 2016 12:17 PM EST

Zika virus scare appears to be holding steady in Florida as one confirmed case reported Wednesday in Brevard County brings statewide infections to 22 according to recent updates from state health officials.

According to a report by the Miami Herald, all cases originated outside Florida with no pregnant women involved so far since expectant mothers are extremely vulnerable due to the suspicion by experts that the mosquito-borne virus could be responsible for neurological birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition that causes unusually small heads in infants.

As a result of the statewide Zika surge, Florida's health department declared a public health emergency in 9 affected counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Hillsborough, Lee, Osceola, Santa Rosa, St. Johns and Brevard.

Health officials also established Zika information hotline (855-622-6735) to accommodate all Zika-related inquiries. Since the activation of the new Zika-specific hotline, the health department has been getting huge volumes of calls especially from out-of-state tourists who are concerned about getting infected especially in places where mosquitoes are particularly common according to a TC Palm news report.

Meanwhile, American and Brazilian experts confirmed a meeting Thursday in a bid to pool resources in a joint research effort to come up with a viable anti-Zika vaccine as mentioned in a Reuters news update.

In another development, the World Bank has announced Thursday of extending $150 million worth of aid to Latin American and Caribbean nations in their fight against the spread of Zika virus that is projected to cost $3.5 billion worth of short-term economic loss to the region as mentioned in a Washington Post article.

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