At Least 10 More People Contract Zika In Florida

Aug 1, 2016
Originally published on August 1, 2016 6:37 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

If you're pregnant, do your research before heading to Miami. The CDC has issued a new travel warning because of the Zika virus. Florida officials have identified at least 10 new cases where people have gotten infected with Zika by mosquitoes. NPR's Greg Allen has the latest.

GREN ALLEN, BYLINE: Governor Rick Scott says with 14 cases now of local Zika transmission, Florida's asking the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance. The governor is asking the CDC to send an emergency response team to help it with investigation, sample collection and mosquito-control efforts. Scott says he's confident that working with the CDC, Florida can stop Zika from spreading as it has with other mosquito-borne diseases.

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RICK SCOTT: We've done really well with dengue fever and chikungunya - been able to basically control the local transmission of those. And so we believe all of us have to work together, but we can do the same thing with this.

ALLEN: Health officials say the good news is that all of the cases of local transmission come from one Miami neighborhood. It's the Wynwood Arts District, an area that's in transition with outdoor cafes, construction sites, high-end development and low-income housing all in close proximity.

CDC director Tom Frieden says members of the emergency response team are already on the ground in Miami. One issue of concern, he says, is that aggressive efforts to control the mosquitoes in the area so far have not stopped Zika from spreading.

TOM FRIEDEN: It's possible that the mosquitoes there are resistant to the insecticides that have been used. Second, it's possible that there are what we call cryptic breeding places or small amounts of standing water where mosquitoes continue to hatch.

ALLEN: Today Frieden said the CDC is now issuing a warning for pregnant women who live in the area or are planning a trip to Miami.

FRIEDEN: We advise pregnant women to avoid travel to this area and pregnant women who live or work in this area to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites.

ALLEN: That's the first time CDC has issued that kind of travel warning anywhere in the continental United States. The CDC is also advising any women who are even thinking about getting pregnant to avoid doing so for at least eight weeks after visiting the area.

Nearly all the Zika cases identified so far appear related to two workplaces in the Wynwood neighborhood. Four people are sick. Six of the new people who tested positive for Zika show no symptoms and were identified through screening of people who live and work in the area.

But in an area where there's a lot of nightlife and young people out for a good time, the challenge is getting visitors to take the travel advisory seriously. News that mosquitoes with Zika were in the area didn't appear to dampen crowds this weekend. Jacob Hartley manages a popular restaurant, the Wynwood Diner.

JACOB HARTLEY: It's not something we're really scared of, but it is a concern on our plate.

ALLEN: Hartley says as a precaution, mosquito repellent is available for patrons eating outside, and servers are being encouraged not to wear shorts. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.