Pregnant women should not travel to an area of Miami Beach where local Zika virus transmission has been confirmed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. This is in addition to a previously identified area of transmission north of downtown Miami.
The agency advised those who have traveled to this area since July 14 to be aware that active transmission of the virus is occurring. Pregnant women should talk to their health care providers about testing, and anyone with a partner who is pregnant should follow recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that five locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in an area of Miami Beach.
Three of those individuals were visitors to the area when they contracted the virus. The visitors have returned to their homes in Texas, New York and Taiwan.
None of the five people has been identified, although Scott said three are men and two are women.
Friday’s developments bring the total number of locally transmitted cases in Florida to 36.
The area in Miami Beach is limited to 1½ square miles, Scott said, running from the beach to the Intracoastal Waterway and from Eighth Street to 28th Street. It is the second area of Miami-Dade County where local transmission of the virus has been found.
The CDC also advised pregnant women and their sexual partners to consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.
“The issue there is that it’s an area where they’re looking hard for Zika; they’re finding some of it; there have been other isolated instances of local spread of Zika, and when Zika starts to spread, it may be two or three weeks before there’s any way to be sure it’s spreading,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Pregnant women are at greatest risk because the virus can have devastating consequences for an unborn baby, including the birth defect microcephaly and other neurological deficits, as well as miscarriage and stillbirth among women who were infected while pregnant.
“The risk is low, but the outcome is so horrific, you really want to try to avoid it,” Frieden told Gupta.
On July 29, Scott announced that the first local transmission of the virus in the continental United States had occurred in the Wynwood neighborhood, north of downtown Miami. A few days later, in an unprecedented move, the CDC announced a travel warning, advising pregnant women not to visit that area. Aggressive mosquito-control measures were taken, including mosquito spraying in the area.
Fourteen blocks of that area have since been “cleared,” with no transmission, and Scott said Friday that three additional blocks are now free of the virus.
“We’ve sampled a majority of residents living in Wynwood,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, the state’s surgeon general and secretary of health, adding, “we don’t believe there is ongoing transmission.”
As for the rest of Miami-Dade County, any business or private resident there can request mosquito spraying by contacting the county office of mosquito control.
Scott asked for perspective Friday, noting that there are 36 locally transmitted cases of the virus and 20.6 million people living in the state.
As of Thursday, there are also 479 travel-related cases of Zika in Florida. According to the CDC, there 2,260 cases of the virus in the continental United States.
Scott asked the CDC for additional Zika tests to screen residents, lab support and addition prevention kits. The kits, which are available from Miami-Dade County OB-GYNs, include insect repellent, tablets that can be placed in standing water to kill larvae, mosquito nets and condoms, along with educational information about the virus and protection against mosquito bites.
Scott also reiterated his request to the Obama administration for a plan to allocate federal resources.