First Case Of Zika Reported In Pinellas County

May 10, 2016

  

  Pinellas County has its first reported case of Zika virus, the Florida Department of Health said on Monday.

The case was one of four new travel-related cases confirmed in Florida this week, bringing the state’s total to 109, including seven cases involving pregnant women. The other new cases were reported in Miami-Dade County (2) and Orange County (1).

So far, all of cases involve people who have acquired the virus outside of Florida, officials said.

Zika, which is spread through mosquitoes and sexual contact, causes birth defects in unborn children who develop abnormally small heads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued new testing guidance that says urine testing is more likely than blood testing to detect Zika virus infection in many patients.

The virus particles can be detected at higher levels in urine and for a longer period of time, according to the CDC.

Urine tests are also easier to conduct, so more people can be tested, experts said.

Sen. Bill Nelson renewed his push this week on the Senate floor for legislation to provide $1.9 billion to fight Zika.

“Bottom line is the virus is spreading and it's spreading quickly,” Nelson said during a Senate speech on Monday. “Not only is it spreading, but the CDC confirmed that the first Zika-related death was a 70-year-old man that died of complications in Puerto Rico.”

Gov. Rick Scott was scheduled to visit Washington on Wednesday on a two-day trip to discuss a strategy to combat Zika.

Scott said he wants a disaster plan similar to hurricanes.

Whether it’s more money for our mosquito boards, whether it’s to make sure we have the right testing kits, to make sure, that, if we have a significant outbreak, do we have all the right resources, do we have what we ought to be given to families if there’s an outbreak in their area?” Scott said. “All of these things.”

The health department recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika affected areas.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

--Julio Ochoa  is a reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.