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Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood may be celebrating this week’s lifting of the suspected Zika transmission map, but Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people in Miami-Dade County not to let their guards down.

I’m the health reporter here at WLRN, but a couple of weeks ago, I declined to go to a town hall meeting in Miami Beach about the city’s very new status as a Zika transmission zone.

A group of researchers and doctors convened in Miami this week to discuss how different specialists are responding to the Zika virus.

Organized by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the conversation ranged from mosquito control to pediatric research—but one of the hottest topics at the discussion surrounded Zika virus testing.

Researchers at UM have applied for a grant to develop rapid Zika testing.

When Brenda Sokolowski turned 50, she followed national recommendations and made an appointment for her first screening colonoscopy.

Hospitals keep a list of what they charge for health care. But if you have insurance, that charge may have nothing to do with what your insurance company has negotiated and what your out-of-pocket expenses would be.

Officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture have found three Zika-positive mosquito samples in Miami Beach.

There's only one place in the continental U.S. where mosquitoes are known to be transmitting the Zika virus: Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. Pregnant women are arming themselves against mosquitoes.

The number of locally-acquired Zika cases keeps rising in South Florida, and that means hard conversations between doctors and patients who want to get pregnant.

Late last fall, Dr. Christine Curry was at a faculty meeting with her colleagues when the conversation turned to new reports linking the Zika virus to a surge in microcephaly in infants in Brazil.

"I think it’s fair to say that most obstetricians had never heard of this virus a year ago," said Curry, who is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Airplanes dispersed insecticide over Miami early Thursday morning, and according to officials they’re already seeing a lot of dead mosquitos.

Gov. Rick Scott and Dr. Tom Frieden—who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—made the announcement at a press conference in Doral on Thursday afternoon.

“As you know, they did aerial spraying this morning and they killed a lot of mosquitoes,” said Scott.

Pregnant women are being asked to stay away from the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Zika-related travel warning for pregnant women to an area just north of Downtown Miami after 10 more people were suspected of getting the virus locally.

Dr. Dr. Gillian Hotz is the director of the KiDZ Neuroscience Center and the sports concussion program at the University of Miami. And now, she can add videogame developer to her resume.

This fall, Hotz is piloting an educational video game with youth football leagues across the country.

The game is called SportzSafe. And it’s designed to teach young players how to prevent, identify and address concussions.

Florida health department officials have been tight-lipped about the investigation into a possible locally-transmitted case of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County.

Sammy Mack/WLRN

 Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. Having health insurance is no guarantee against being swamped by bills after an emergency or a big procedure.

But one Palm Beach County man has found there’s room to negotiate.

  The number of Zika cases in Florida has grown to 188—which includes 38 pregnant women who are being monitored by the state.

So far, all of those cases are travel-related. But public health officials are bracing for local outbreaks.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip was in Fort Lauderdale Thursday to give a presentation on the state’s Zika plans to the Broward legislative delegation.

Medical bills can be incredibly confusing and difficult to read.

But do you have a better idea?

No, seriously, do you?

Health News Florida has been reporting that Florida’s health insurance companies are asking for double-digit rate increases.

Federal officials are all but certain there will be a Zika outbreak in the continental U.S. this summer.

The mosquito-borne virus continues to spread in Central and South America and the Caribbean. It’s linked to severe birth defects and other serious side effects.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, spoke with WLRN about what this all means for Floridians:

What Floridians can expect:

The Zika pandemic has gotten people talking about mosquito control.

But humans aren’t the only ones affected by mosquito-borne diseases in South Florida.

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