CDC Issues Travel Advisory For Miami As 10 New Zika Cases Announced

Aug 2, 2016

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.

Health officials have identified at least 14 apparently mosquito-borne Zika infections in a 1-square-mile area in and near Wynwood.

"The bottom line of this announcement is that we advise pregnant women to avoid travel to this area and pregnant women who live or work in this area and their partners to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites and to prevent sexual transmission of Zika," said Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, in a press call on Monday afternoon.

Frieden also said any pregnant women who live in or have traveled to the area since June 15th should talk to their doctors about getting screened for the disease.

Exposure to Zika virus during pregnancy has been linked to microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Florida has already reported one baby born with the condition after the mother contracted the virus during a trip abroad.

According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), there are currently 55 cases in the state involving pregnant women and more than 380 cases in total.

In response to the new cases, Gov. Rick Scott has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to activate an Emergency Response Team to help the Florida Department of Health investigate.

“For women who live or work in the impacted area and are either pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, I urge you to contact your OB/GYN for guidance and to receive a Zika prevention kit,” Scott said in a release.

So far, more than 2,300 people in Florida have been tested for the Zika virus, including more than 200 in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties who live or work near the transmission area.

Of the 14 people that have been locally-infected, 12 are men and two are women.

Six of the 10 people did not have any symptoms connected to the virus. They were identified when DOH officials conducted a door-to-door survey.

“We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses,” Scott said in the statement.

In light of the new cases and the travel warning, local and state officials are doing what they can to keep the state's tourism-friendly reputation intact.

Governor Rick Scott is traveling the state talking about Zika, and he was in Pinellas Park on Monday.

The travel advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention follows a similar one issued for pregnant women by Public Health officials in England.

Gov. Scott says the state has experience dealing with mosquito borne illnesses and is using all of its resources to stop the spread of Zika.

“We’ve had 60 plus million tourists probably already this year,” Scott said. “Tourists are going to continue coming to our state because it’s such a wonderful place to come but were going to be very aggressive taking care of everybody in our state and our visitors.”

He added that those worried about coming to the state should keep the recent spread of Zika in perspective. Florida is a large state with more than 20 million residents. The area of concern is 1 square-mile in Miami. So far only 14 people have been infected, he said.

However, mosquito control in Miami hasn’t been working as well as health officials would like.

Despite aggressive measures, there are still more mosquitoes than there should be in the area just north of Downtown Miami, Frieden, the head of the CDC, said.

“It’s possible that the mosquitoes there are resistant to the insecticides that have been used,” he said.

Frieden said a CDC expert will work with Florida to test mosquitoes for insecticide resistance.

He said another possibility is that there are undiscovered breeding sites.

“What’s I think challenging about this area is that it’s a mixed-use area and has many different types of buildings and locations present,” Frieden said. From industrial to residential, from high-end to more economically stressed.”

Frieden said the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika virus may just be very difficult to control in this kind of urban environment.

Health News Florida's Julio Ochoa and Sammy Mack contributed to this story.