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Gov. McAuliffe Forms Zika Virus Task Force to Prepare For Mosquito Season

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Friday that he has formed a statewide task force to prepare for the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness.

The Virginia Department of Health will lead the group, first focusing on mosquito surveillance and control plans prior to the start of the mosquito season, generally pegged as May 1.

The Zika virus illness is usually mild, but it’s suspected to be linked with pregnant women giving birth to babies with a brain deformity called microcephaly.

The virus has been spreading in South and Central America. Three cases have been identified in Virginia, all in people who recently traveled to countries where the virus was circulating.

“While individuals should take their own precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses, it’s important that state agencies, health-care facilities and others collaborate to make sure we understand exactly what impact Zika might have on the commonwealth and how we can work together to minimize it,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel in a news release.

The statewide Zika virus task force will also include officials from the Department of Emergency Management, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Department of General Services, Department of Education, Department of Health Professions, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as federal and local authorities, hospitals, blood supply services, and mosquito control organizations.

For more information about the Zika virus, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov.

This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com

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