Jul 29, 2016

U.S. confirms Florida Zika cases are first local transmission in continental U.S.

Miami, FL
USA
by
Lena Sun and Brady Dennis
,
Washington Post
Image: Washington Post
Image: Washington Post

Florida and federal officials on Friday confirmed the first local spread of the Zika virus through infected mosquitoes in the continental United States.

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"These are the first cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in the continental United States," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news briefing Friday. "As we have anticipated, Zika is now here."

Frieden praised state officials for responding rapidly with aggressive mosquito-control measures and a community-wide search for additional Zika cases. Because the virus can have devastating consequences for a fetus, the CDC recommends that pregnant women or women thinking about becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika-affected regions. However, Frieden said no travel limitations in this country are currently warranted.

"We don’t expect widespread transmission in the continental United States," he said. "That is not the situation we're in today."

But if more people become infected despite ongoing mosquito-control measures, "this would be concerning and warrant further advice and action." The CDC will reassess daily and revise its recommendations accordingly.

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Florida, Texas and other parts of the Gulf Coast are considered at highest risk for local spread of the mosquito-borne virus. The region is home to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary vector for transmitting Zika. Both states have had local cases of dengue and chikungunya, related viruses that are spread by the same mosquito species.

Florida already has 386 travel-related Zika cases, more than any other southern state. Of those, 55 involve pregnant women. Miami-Dade has 99 travel-related cases, the most in the state