Florida gets 1,000 Zika test kits to handle health emergency

- Florida has received reinforcements against the Zika virus in the form of nearly 1,000 test kits, Governor Rick  Scott announced Tuesday.

The governor requested the additional kits, bringing the total to more than 1,400, after he declared a health emergency in the counties affected by the virus.

"This is like a hurricane. If you just look at the last week, we've had a significant increase in our cases."  Scott said a day earlier. "You prepare for the worst and you hope for the best and that's what we'll continue to do around the state."

There have been 16 Zika cases in Florida so far, including three in Hillsborough County.

The antibody test kits will allow people, especially pregnant women and new mothers, to see if they ever had  the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects.

"This is something that, as we know, has caused significant issues in Central and South America," the governor said. "We'll have 100 million tourists. We have 20 million people in our state. The most important thing is to be safe."

Pinellas County health officials, meanwhile, are hoping to ease concerns.

JoAnne Lamb, with the Florida Department of Health, said experts have handled health concerns like this in  the past and is confident this won't be much different.

"We are prepared to handle cases and we are prepared to handle outbreaks," Lamb said during a news  conference.

The county's entomology specialist said the best way to be prepared is to get rid of standing water.

Meantime, at least one blood donation company in Florida is taking precautions of its own. OneBlood announced it's putting a 28-day donation hold on anyone who has traveled to the hardest-hit areas.

"What we are asking our donors to do is, if they have traveled to any of the risk-areas, which right now are  the Caribbean, Central, South America and Mexico, that they not donate blood for 28 days after they've returned back to the U.S.," said Dr. Rita Reik, OneBlood's Chief Medical Officer. "You run the risk that  someone might feel well and healthy, but have the virus in their blood. So that 28-day deferral gives the  virus plenty of time to clear and after that the person is no longer infectious."

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