Zika Virus Threat Expands to Miami Beach

Five new cases of local transmission of Zika virus have been reported in the heart of Miami Beach, in addition to the outbreak first reported late July in the Wynwood community located just north of downtown Miami.

Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that just as several large sectors of the Wynwood area were cleared of evidence of transmission, 5 new cases of mosquito-borne Zika infection were reported in the densely-populated South Beach area of Miami Beach, south from 28th Street to 8th street, from the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay, an area encompassing less than 1.5 square miles. This area also includes the Miami Beach Convention Center, a popular venue for international meetings and conventions.

The five new cases involved two Miami Beach residents and three out-of-area visitors.

This brings the total of known locally-acquired Zika virus infections (transmitted by bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito) in Miami-Dade County to 36.

The new  outbreak prompted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to warn pregnant women or those considering becoming pregnant to avoid travel to the 2 affected areas (Wynwood and the South Beach), and those concerned about infection to avoid Miami-Dade altogether.

No government warnings have been issued against travel to other parts of Florida.

In addition to the locally-acquired cases identified in the Wynwood and South Beach areas (the first in the continental U.S.), the Florida Department of Health reports 14 new travel-related cases bringing the total in the state to 488, 68 of these being pregnant women. All of these cases were acquired out of the continental U.S.

The CDC advises pregnant women who work in the affected areas, or must travel to them, to protect themselves by wearing insect repellant, long clothing and limiting their time outdoors.

According to CDC guidance, doctors and other health providers should consider testing all pregnant women with a history of travel to Zika-affected areas, and it recommends that all pregnant women who reside in the transmission-prone areas to be tested for Zika in their first and second trimester.

The Florida Department of Health urges women and men who have travelled to affected areas and who have a pregnant sexual partner, to use condoms or other barriers to prevent infection every time they have intercourse during the pregnancy.

(See additional precautions in the What You Should Do About the Zika Virus post on the homepage.)

 

Planning to travel soon? Don’t forget your insurance coverage.

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