Health Officials Identify More Cases Of Locally Acquired Zika In Florida

Aug 19, 2016
Originally published on August 19, 2016 6:33 pm
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Zika is spreading through south Florida. There's now a second neighborhood where mosquitoes appear to be carrying the virus - Miami Beach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidance for pregnant women concerned about Zika. NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Florida and many other states have hundreds of residents who contracted Zika while traveling abroad. But so far, Miami's Wynwood neighborhood is the only place in the country where people are known to be contracting Zika from infected mosquitoes, until today. In Miami, Florida Governor Rick Scott held a news conference to announce that five new cases of locally acquired Zika have been found.

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RICK SCOTT: This means that we believe we have a new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami Beach.

ALLEN: It's been nearly a month since the first cases of local Zika transmission were confirmed in Miami. And so far, the economic impact has been minimal, mostly affecting bars and restaurants in the city's Wynwood area. With the new cases, health officials say, there's now also active transmission of Zika in the areas top tourist destination, Miami Beach. Scott said the state will do all it can to help hotels and restaurants there with Zika education and mosquito control.

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SCOTT: Tourism is a driving force of our economy, and this industry has the full support of our state in the fight against the Zika virus.

ALLEN: Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip said, under the CDC's guidelines, anytime there are two or more cases of non-travel-related Zika within a one mile area, that's evidence of active transmission. That's the case in Miami Beach. But Philip said Florida health officials are also investigating several other places in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, where local transmission of Zika may have occurred.

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CELESTE PHILIP: We have not determined if the other isolated cases are related to this location or Wynwood at this time. However, our team continues to investigate, and we will share additional details as they become available.

ALLEN: With the new cases, the CDC is advising pregnant women to avoid travel to Miami Beach and to Wynwood and to consider postponing nonessential travel to Miami-Dade County altogether. The CDC has a response team already on the ground here. Fighting the mosquitoes that carry Zika is tough, even harder in Miami Beach because high-rise buildings and wind conditions rule out aerial spraying. CDC director Tom Frieden said there are also other challenges in a packed beach resort.

TOM FRIEDEN: The large number of people and the high turnover of people means that there could be ongoing people who are exposed. And the amount of exposed skin also makes it harder to reduce the risk of infections there.

ALLEN: Two of the 5 new cases involve local Miami Beach residents. The other three people infected were visitors from Texas, New York and Taiwan. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.