U.S. health officials have begun enrolling volunteers for critical next-stage testing of an experimental vaccine to protect against Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause devastating birth defects in pregnant women.
Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.
Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.
With the rainy season approaching and mosquitoes breeding at this time of year, Gov. Rick Scott and community leaders urged residents to remain aware and take necessary precautions against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.
At a community roundtable on Monday at the Department of Health in Miami, the governor stressed the importance of residents’ actions to help prevent Zika-related infections.
A small group of researchers at Florida Atlantic University is developing a small device that could help detect the Zika virus within just a few minutes and at a very low cost that could be available for use as early as next summer.
Florida has the highest number of Zika-related cases--with Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County being among the most affected. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention listed 5,040 virus cases in the United States in the last two years and 1,069 were in Florida. The majority of the cases reported were travel-related.
Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.
But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.
The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.
Is Florida really at the bottom of the pack of states when it comes to paying for mental health care? And was Miami-Dade the first place to declare itself free of the Zika virus? WUSF's gets to the bottom of those claims with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.
University of Miami doctors have published a case study about the first locally transmitted case of Zika in the United States. The patient was a 23-year-old pregnant women whose symptoms included a fever, joint pain and a rash. Her baby tested negative for the virus.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is saying the federal government is shortchanging the state when it comes to doling out money to fight the transmission of the Zika virus. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida to see if it's true.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are granting a team of Florida researchers $10 million to research Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. University of Florida scientists will lead the regional research center, in collaboration with teams from the University of Miami, Florida International University, and the University of South Florida.
One big question about the Zika virus has been how big a risk the virus might pose in the United States.
Studies earlier this year suggested that birth defects and other problems were mainly limited to babies born in some parts of Brazil.
A study out Tuesday provides a sense of the effects on women who were exposed while pregnant in other countries and then came to the United States. About 6 percent of those pregnancies resulted in defects in the fetus or baby.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that the state Department of Health is lifting the Zika zone in Miami’s Little River neighborhood because 45 days have passed without any new local cases in the area.
“This is a good news day,” the governor said repeatedly. But he urged residents to remain vigilant. Zika infections have been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, which can cause intellectual disabilities, seizures and cerebral palsy.
State health officials said Wednesday they have found four more locally transmitted cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Miami-Dade County, while two "travel-related" cases were reported in the Orlando area.
There are now more than 1,200 cases of the Zika virus in Florida, and about a fifth are locally contracted cases via Florida mosquitoes. So, health officials are reminding Floridians to continue taking preventive measures to combat the disease.