Energy

Florida To Restrict Travel After 10 New Local Zika Cases

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue a travel notice warning pregnant women to stay away from areas of downtown Miami after Florida officials announced 10 more people had contracted Zika virus from local mosquitoes.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Monday that state health officials found 10 more people who likely contracted Zika from local mosquitoes. Scott urged visitors to southern Florida to use bug spray.

“Florida has a proven track record of success when it comes to managing similar mosquito-borne viruses,” Scott said Monday.

“While I encourage all residents and visitors to continue to use precaution by draining standing water and wearing bug spray, Florida remains safe and open for business,” he said. “This year, we have already welcomed a record 30 million tourists and we look forward to welcoming more visitors to Florida this summer.”

Scott’s Monday announcement comes just days after Florida officials announced Friday the first domestically-spread cases of Zika. State health officials said four people were infected with Zika, and now have found 10 new patients through door-to-door surveys following the first cases. Of the infected individuals identified, two are women and 12 are men. State officials have not said if either of the women are pregnant. Health officials began testing the nearby area for possible local Zika infections through mosquito bites.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are also known to many other viruses and tropical diseases.  More deaths are associated with mosquitoes than any other animal on the planet.

Florida health officials have stated that the original four patients appear to have been infected in early July. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stopped accepting blood donations from the Miami-area in late July until they are screened for the virus.

There are currently 1,661 cases of Zika virus confirmed in the continental U.S., as well as another 4,729 in American territories, according to the CDC. These cases include 15 believed to be the result of sexual transmission, one that was the result of laboratory exposure, as well as the four new local cases. The vast majority of the cases were from people who traveled to a Zika-prone country, such as Brazil.

Zika virus infections in pregnant women are directly linked to fetal deaths and devastating birth defects such as microcephaly, when a baby is born with an abnormally small head, according to the CDC. Laboratory studies also confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the blood, tissue, brains and amniotic fluid of fetuses and babies diagnosed with microcephaly.

There have now been 12 confirmed cases of babies born with Zika-related microcephaly in America, and more than 400 pregnant woman in the continental U.S. have evidence of Zika infection. Some babies with no immediate signs of problems also have been born in the U.S. to Zika-infected mothers.

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