2 More Possible Non-Travel-Related Cases Of Zika Investigated In South Florida
Two more possible non-travel-related cases of Zika virus are being investigated in South Florida, the Florida Department of Health confirmed Wednesday.
The new cases are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the same areas where health officials began investigating two similar cases last week.
The health department began going door-to-door in the area where the cases were found to determine if anyone else is infected. Officials are also collecting mosquitoes in the area for testing.
Zika prevention kits are being given out at OBGYN offices and at local health department offices in Broward and Miami.
The health department began investigating what could be the first case of non-travel-related Zika on July 19 in Miami-Dade County.
Two days later, it began investigating a second case in Broward County.
There has been no confirmation whether those cases were actually the first cases of the virus transmitted by mosquitoes in the United States.
However, travel was ruled out as a possible source, Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip said Tuesday, according to the Miami Herald.
Wednesday’s news raises concerns that mosquitoes in Florida may be spreading the virus.
Chalmers Vasquez is the operations manager and director of mosquito control for Miami-Dade County. He says his department is doing everything it can to prevent the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits zika.
“Imported or locally transmitted, we respond the same,” Vasquez said. “The protocol doesn’t change. We don’t control the virus, we control mosquitoes. We’ve been controlling these mosquitoes for many, many, many years.”
Measures include spraying for mosquitoes, dumping standing water and educating the public about mosquito prevention.
The Florida Department of Health has not given a timeline for its investigation into the non-travel-related cases. Investigators will be going door-to-door in the affected areas, and the department says South Florida residents can help the investigation by providing urine samples when requested.
The health department announced 17 new travel-related cases of Zika on Wednesday: three in Palm Beach, two in Brevard, two in Broward, two in Orange, one in Escambia, one in Osceola, one in Polk and one in Seminole. Four of those cases involve pregnant women.
There have now been more than 380 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida.
WLRN reporter Kate Stein contributed to this report.