A total of 429 Floridians are infected with the Zika virus, according to the state’s Department of Health.
Florida has documented 25 non-travel related cases of Zika that were likely contracted from mosquitoes in the state or from sexual transmission. Officials believe 404 Zika infections were contracted while traveling abroad, and they are monitoring 57 pregnant women with Zika.
Florida is the first U.S. state to report locally-transmitted Zika cases. Federal and state health officials have already directed pregnant women to avoid parts of Miami where Zika transmissions have been reported, and they are distributing kits to test for the virus to pregnant women in Florida.
Officials said 17 patients in Miami were infected with Zika, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stopped accepting blood donations from the Miami-area in late July until donors are screened for the virus.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Laboratory studies 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 women in the continental U.S. have evidence of Zika infection. Some babies with no immediate signs of problems have also been born in the U.S. to Zika-infected mothers.
There are currently 1,962 cases of Zika virus confirmed in the continental U.S., as well as another 6,587 in American territories, according to the CDC’s most recent update published Wednesday. The domestic American cases include 22 believed to be the result of sexual transmission, one that was the result of laboratory exposure, as well as six new local cases. The vast majority of the cases were from people who traveled to a Zika-prone country, such as Brazil.
The virus is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also spread several other dangerous tropical diseases. Mosquitoes kill more people than other humans and are the most deadly insects on the planet.
Army medical researchers announced last Friday that a Zika virus vaccine was successfully tested on monkeys and human trials are expected soon.
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