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Mosquito-Transmitted Zika Virus in Florida

2016-07-29

The Florida State Department of Health has announced that four cases of Zika virus infection, all with relatively mild disease, were probably transmitted locally by infected mosquitoes.  The department has been testing mosquitoes and has not found any positive for the virus so far, but continues to test.  The department is also going door to door and testing local residents of Miami with urine samples for inapparent Zika infection (the infection is usually asymptomatic and only one in four to one in five infected people show apparent disease.)

The department also encouraged anyone who wished to be tested to contact their county health department.  They believe that the area of active transmission is limited to a one-mile-square area just north of downtown Miami.  Blood banks in Miami are excluding donations from “the impacted area.”  A large number of cases (over 300) have been reported but so far all are thought to be “travel related.”

Florida is a port of entry for many of the countries in South America currently experiencing outbreaks of Zika virus.  The virus has been spreading throughout South America in the last year since jumping across the Pacific Ocean.  Colombia recently declared that its epidemic had ended, although continued local spread is occurring.  Brazil has been the hardest hit, with preparations for the Olympic Games affected by concern over spread among visitors to the country.

Infection with the Zika virus usually causes relatively mild disease, although cases of Guillan-Barre syndrome among patients have occurred.  The most serious concern is among pregnant women with acute infections; the virus can cause microcephaly among children whose mothers were infected.  More than 20 known cases of microcephaly have occurred in Colombia so far.

This information was taken from a New York Times report and the Florida Department of Health.  The Florida Department has a daily update on the Zika virus.  Additional information on Zika virus is available from Medical News Today.

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