Local Health Officials in New Zika Hot Spot Concerned

Zika virus has spread to an area of Miami where local health officials are already concerned about women's lack of access to healthcare.

The new spot for Zika virus is a dense 1-square mile section of Little Haiti. It's just west of Miami's upper east side, which is separated from Miami Beach by Biscayne Bay. Florida health officials started linking Zika infection cases to the Little River neighborhood last month.

County officials are employing aggressive mosquito control tactics as they have in Wynwood and Miami Beach. The measures include property inspections, using pesticide trucks to spray early in the mornings and pulling tropical plants that trap water and tend to exacerbate mosquito breeding from city-owned areas. Aerial spraying was effective in Wynwood, but not as effective in Miami Beach where it was met with protests.

Access to Healthcare Concerns

Community health organizers are concerned that poorer women in this neighborhood won’t get the help they need, and residents concerned about Zika, according to ABCnews, want aerial spraying and more support.

Florida Governor Rick Scott met with local officials at a Catholic school and said that he's just as committed to stopping Zika's spread there as he has been in other areas. At the school, students have been instructed to tell their parents to wear repellent outside, and drain any standing water to reduce the potential for mosquitoes to breed.

The Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade was already worried about this neighborhood months ago. The coalition provides oversight to the Miami-Dade Healthy Start system, which receives local, state and federal funding, and delivers health services to pregnant women and families. Neighborhood residents were not the ones getting tested after Florida made Zika testing free for all pregnant women statewide in August.

“The majority of the women who came in were from a higher socio-economic area, and more were tourists,” he said.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the coalition's case managers believe important information hasn’t reached families in the area affected.

Women in this area experience barriers to prenatal care, such as costs, a lack of transportation to health appointments, child care costs while at appointments and the ability to get paid time off from work to take them. High-risk pregnancies and infant mortality rates are already higher, said Manuel Fermin, the coalition's chief executive officer.

Planned Parenthood is also canvassing the neighborhood. Volunteers say many people do not answer the door because they think its immigration services.

“Are we getting the people we need to be getting?” Fermin said.

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