Sunday 19 January 2020

Zika transmitted by mosquitoes in South Beach, Florida officials confirm

The Zika virus (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention/PA)
The Zika virus (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention/PA)

South Beach has been identified as a second site of Zika transmission by mosquitoes on the US mainland, Florida officials have confirmed.

The discovery prompted the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to announce it was expanding its travel warning for pregnant women to include the tourist-friendly area of Miami Beach.

In a statement issued shortly after Governor Rick Scott and health officials released the latest information, the CDC said pregnant women may also want to consider postponing non-essential travel throughout Miami-Dade County if they are concerned about potential exposure to the mosquito-borne virus.

"We're in the midst of mosquito season and expect more Zika infections in the days and months to come," said CDC director Dr Tom Frieden.

"It is difficult to predict how long active transmission will continue."

Five cases of Zika have been connected to Miami Beach, bringing the state's caseload to 36 infections not related to travel outside the US, Mr Scott said at a news conference.

In response to a follow-up question from The Associated Press, Florida Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said officials believe the cases were transmitted by mosquitoes.

Two of the infected people are Miami-Dade County residents and three are tourists, including one man and two women, Mr Scott said. The tourists are residents of New York, Texas and Taiwan.

Mr Scott described the new area of infection in the narrow island city as just under 1.5 miles between 8th and 28th streets.

Another infection zone was previously identified across a roughly one-square-mile area encompassing Miami's Wynwood arts district.

Possible infections outside Wynwood and Miami Beach also are being investigated.

Zika infection can cause severe brain-related birth defects, including a dangerously small head, if women are infected during pregnancy.

The virus only causes mild, flu-like symptoms in most people, making it difficult to confirm local transmissions, the CDC said.

"For this reason, it is possible that other neighbourhoods in Miami-Dade County have active Zika transmission that is not yet apparent," the CDC's statement said.


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