- Two women and three men infected in new Miami-Dade County area
- It comes after storms left swathes of standing water, conducive to mosquitoes
- Florida Governor Rick Scott urged feds now is the time to send funds
Zika has spread to a new region of Miami, Florida officials announced on Thursday.
Two women and three men have been infected by the virus in a small part of Miami-Dade County. Three live in the area, one works in the area, one has visited the area.
It comes after the intense storms last week, leaving swathes of standing water, which is ideal breeding ground for Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Though these infections were likely contracted earlier, officials warn conditions are primed for the spread to worsen.
Announcing the new outbreak zone, Florida Governor Rick Scott called on the federal government for funding to help fight the infection.
Announcing the new outbreak zone, Florida Governor Rick Scott called on the federal government for funding to help fight the infection
The governor said the state’s health department believes Zika transmission is only occurring in Miami-Beach and in the new area, which covers about one square mile.
Zika, which is spread primarily by mosquitoes but also sexually, is a concern for pregnant women and their partners because the virus has been liked with a series of birth defects including microcephaly, marked by small head size and underdeveloped brains that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.
Last month, U.S. health officials urged pregnant women to consider putting off all nonessential travel to Miami due to the Zika virus even as the state lifted a travel warning for the Wynwood, the Miami neighborhood which was the first site of local Zika transmission in the continental United States.
Florida has reported a total of 164 cases of Zika caused by local mosquito transmission, including 19 people who were infected in the state but live elsewhere. There are also five cases in which it was not clear whether transmission occurred in Florida or elsewhere.
In a statement released on Thursday, Scott said the announcement of the new area of transmission underscores the ‘urgent need’ for federal funding to fight the virus, adding that the state still has not received any of the funding that was approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama two weeks ago.
Scott said he has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work directly with the Miami-Dade Mosquito Control District to identify best practices for defeating Zika in the new area.
Florida officials had already reported four of the five cases of Zika that occurred in the new area of transmission in Miami-Dade County.
‘With the confirmation of today’s case, this area now meets the CDC’s criteria for a new zone,’ officials said in a statement.
The Zika virus was first detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. It has been linked to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly in Brazil.
LATEST ON ZIKA: WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS
HOW DO PEOPLE GET IT?
Zika is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
It is the same type that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile.
Zika will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.
The virus can also be transmitted through sex, from either a male or female partner who has been infected.
A few cases of apparent infection via blood transfusion have been reported.
A mother can pass the virus to her unborn fetus.
Current research indicates the greatest microcephaly risk is associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy, but health officials have warned an impact could be seen in later weeks.
Recent studies have shown evidence of Zika in amniotic fluid, placenta and fetal brain tissue.
HOW DO YOU TREAT ZIKA?
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection.
Companies and scientists are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika.
However, a preventative shot is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least two or three years.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS?
The CDC concluded that infection with the Zika virus in pregnant women is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly.
Microcephaly is a condition defined by unusually small heads that can result in developmental problems, and other severe brain abnormalities in babies.
The CDC said that since the causal relationship had been established, several important questions must still be answered with studies that could take years.
The World Health Organization in an updated assessment said the ‘most likely explanation’ is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly.
Brazil recently reported 1,949 confirmed cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika infections in pregnant women.
It is investigating more than 3,030 suspected cases of microcephaly.
The WHO also updated its guidelines to say the infection is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis.
Its previous statement, based on a rapid assessment of evidence, said there was strong scientific consensus that Zika virus caused GBS, microcephaly and other neurological disorders.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
People infected with Zika may have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for two to seven days.
But as many as 80 per cent of people infected never develop symptoms.
HOW CAN ZIKA BE CONTAINED?
Efforts to control the spread of the virus focus on eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets.
U.S. and international health officials have advised pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries, sections of Miami, Florida in the United States and Singapore where they may be exposed to Zika.
They are also advising that men and women who have traveled to Zika outbreak areas use condoms or abstain from sex for six months to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS THE OUTBREAK?
Active Zika outbreaks have been reported in at least 59 countries or territories, most of them in the Americas, according to the CDC. Brazil has been the country most affected.
Africa: 1 country
Americas: 49 countries
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saba, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelmy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela.
Asia: 1 country
Oceania/Pacific Islands: 8 countries
American Samoa, Fiji, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga.
HISTORY OF ZIKA
The Zika virus is found in tropical locales with large mosquito populations.
Outbreaks of Zika have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Southern Asia and the Western Pacific.
The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was first identified in people in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to the WHO.
ANY OTHER ZIKA-RELATED COMPLICATIONS?
Zika has also been associated with other neurological disorders, including serious brain and spinal cord infections.
The long-term health consequences of Zika infection are unclear.
Other uncertainties surround the incubation period of the virus and how Zika interacts with other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue.