Health Officials: 3 In Florida Have Zika Virus

Jan 20, 2016

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed three cases of Zika virus in Florida, including two in Miami-Dade County and one in Hillsborough County.

Media outlets report the health department said Tuesday that the three people contracted the mosquito-borne virus while visiting South America.

Health officials say the two cases in Miami-Dade County involve people who traveled to Colombia in December. The third case involves a Hillsborough County resident who traveled to Venezuela in December.

Health officials say the virus is quickly spreading through South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It may cause a fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis and could be dangerous for pregnant women or women of childbearing age.

While no cases have been contracted in Florida, health officials are warning everyone to be cautious of the disease.

The Florida Department of Health is telling pregnant women to be extra cautious, as the Zika virus has been linked to birth defects.

Orange County health department director Kevin Sherin said while pregnant women should avoid traveling to these places, all travelers should use mosquito repellant and watch for symptoms.

“Zika virus is a relatively mild clinical illness that has conjunctivitis, which is red eyes, a rash, joint pain and a fever. It can last up to a week, often times only a couple of days. Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all,” Sherin said.

The virus can’t be transmitted from person to person.

Sherin said it’s possible local mosquitoes could pick up the virus if they bite an infected person.

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Crystal Chavez is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE  is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.