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Second Possible Non-Travel Zika Case In Broward

Creative Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A second possible non-travel related case of Zika virus was announced today in Broward County, health officials said.

The Florida Department of Health is investigating the case with the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

The State’s Surgeon General has asked the CDC to send a medical epidemiologist to Florida to help with the investigation. 

The health department is working with mosquito control officials to trap and reduce the number of insects in the area of investigation in Broward.

Zika prevention kits will be distributed by OBGYNs and the Broward health department.

Meanwhile the state health department has not ruled out sexual transmission as the source of a Miami-area woman's Zika infection.

Spokewoman Mara Gambineri says not all the blood and urine tests from the people around the infected patient have come back yet, and they can't definitively say that nobody involved traveled outside the United States recently.

Mosquitoes tested as part of this investigation have so far tested negative for Zika, as of results that came back Thursday.

Health officials are trying to determine whether the woman could be the first person infected with the Zika virus directly by a mosquito bite inside the continental United States.

Zika is usually spread by mosquitoes, but nearly all the Zika cases in the U.S. have been contracted in other countries or through sex with someone who traveled and was bitten elsewhere.

Miami-Dade County has been sending mosquitoes trapped in the woman's neighborhood to be tested at Florida Gulf Coast University since July 15. A spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says none of the samples have tested positive for the Zika virus.

Meanwhile, the largest blood bank in central Florida is going to start screening for the Zika virus.

OneBlood said Thursday that it will start screening for the mosquito-borne virus Aug. 1.

Dr. Rita Reik, OneBlood's chief medical officer, says in a statement that only a portion of collections will be screened.

Hospitals and other facilities that want Zika-screened blood will have to make a request.

Reik says that will allow them to have screened-blood for high-risk patients such as pregnant women.

Florida could be getting another $5.6 million in federal funding to assist in the fight against the Zika virus.

The White House reported in a news release Wednesday that President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Gov. Rick Scott regarding what might be the United States' first non-travel-related Zika case.

The President noted during the call that besides the $2 million that the CDC already provided to Florida, the agency anticipates awarding Florida another $5.6 million in Zika funding through a grant this week.

Curt Sommerhoff, the emergency management director in Miami-Dade County, says the department is working hard with the Florida Department of Health and Mosquito Control officials in case the investigation turns more significant. 

“Our expertise here is multi-agency coordination,” Sommerhoff said.  “So anything the Health Department would need, anything the mosquito people would need, if things were to get ramped up in terms of other resources here in the community, we could make those available to them.” 

According to Sommerhoff, if an outbreak were to happen, the department would first focus on keeping residents informed. 

“It’s really in the hands of the public, to work with the government to make sure they’re doing the things around their homes to make sure their home is potentially free from mosquito breeding,” Sommerhoff said.

He said it’s up to communities to keep neighborhoods “mosquito-breeding free.” 

The Florida Health Department recommends draining water from places it may collect around a home, like birdbaths and pets' water bowls.  Repellant use and clothes that cover the skin are also advised. 

Zika has not been a mosquito-borne disease, as of yet, in the United States.

Sommerhoff said because South Florida has a subtropical climate the health department is familiar with mosquito-borne illnesses, like Chikungunya and West Nile. 

He said it’s still not time to get worried or panic. 

“We have such a good plan here, we have such good resources, that it’s not a problem typically in First World countries and in places with government that do focus on these efforts,” he said.