Governor Bentley Takes Lead on Zika Preparedness
Governor Bentley has taken a strong leadership role in preparedness and prevention measures against a possible future Zika virus outbreak. Though Alabama has been relatively unaffected by the virus, Governor Bentley is urging state agencies, health care professionals and citizens to exercise caution and to continue preparedness measures.
On June 9, Governor Bentley participated in a teleconference call with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and other governors from states expected to be affected by the Zika virus. The teleconference served as a direct line of open communication between states and federal partners to discuss preparedness measures and states’ critical needs.
“We continue to keep close contact with federal partners to make sure Alabama is as ready as possible to handle any future Zika cases,” said Governor Bentley. “As with any emergency situation, I have made preparation and response a priority.”
Alabama has received $8,282,477 in Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response program base funding from the CDC, as well as an additional $334,769 in Zika-specific funding. These dollars will help serve the citizens of Alabama as the state formulates a preparedness and response plan.
As states continue to work on Zika preparedness and response plans, public awareness campaigns have been an effective tool to educate citizens about how to protect themselves from the Zika virus. The Alabama Department of Senior Services and the Alabama Department of Public Health have partnered to keep the public informed by distributing more than 8,000 coloring books to senior centers and public school students in pre-kindergarten through third grade statewide as well as to some private schools and other groups.
“These coloring books can be an effective way to get the message out to families and engage Alabamians of all ages about the need to protect themselves and their communities by eliminating places where mosquitoes can breed,” State Health Officer Dr. Tom Miller said. “This helps prevent mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika.”
In Alabama, as of July 5, 116 individuals have been tested for Zika, while 6 who have tested positive. All of these Zika positive individuals contracted the disease through travel related circumstances. There have been no locally acquired cases in the State of Alabama.
The Governor encourages citizens to stay informed as state agencies continue to prepare through prevention and response measures. Mosquitos do not require much water to breed, so it is important to eliminate standing pools of water, dispose of unused material and keep weeds, grass and vines trimmed. Pregnant women should avoid traveling to Zika affected countries. More information on prevention measures from the CDC can be found here. The Alabama Department of Public Health website (hyperlinked) is also a good source of information.