Wednesday 3 August 2016

Florida State Department of Health Confirms local transmission of Zika Virus in Miami Dad County.

The Florida State Department of Health has confirmed that there is a high likelihood that at least four cases of Zika Virus in Miami-Dade County are the result of local transmission; i.e. that the patients have caught the Virus locally, rather than while travelling in another area where the Virus is endemic. Zika Virus is a Mosquito-transmitted disease that usually only causes a rash, mild fever and/or joint pain. However a recent epidemic of the disease, centred on Brazil and affecting a number of other South and Central American countries and Caribbean Islands, has been linked to a range of birth defects, in particular microcephaly, severe underdevelopment of the brain leading to profound life-long learning disabilities.

A total of 331 case of Zika have been reported in Florida, including 55 affecting pregnant women, with the largest clusters of infections in Miami-Dade (99 cases), Broward (55 cases) and Orange (40 cases) counties. The Florida State Department of Health is carrying out active monitoring of affected areas, including door-to-door outreach and urine sample collection, as well as trapping and testing of Mosquitoes. While no Zika-positive Mosquitoes have yet been discovered, the Department is confident that the state has at least one area where local transmission of Zika Virus is occurring, an area in Miami-Dade County bounded by NW 5th Avenue to the west, US 1 to the east, NW/NE 38th Street to the north and NW/NE 20th Street to the south.

The confirmed area of the Miami-Dade Zika Virus outbreak. Google Maps/Florida State Department of Health.

As a precautionary measure local blood banks are excluding donors from areas where Zika has been reported, and the Florida State Department of Health is recommending any women who have travelled to affected areas should seek testing for the Virus and additional ultrasound scans from their healthcare provider. It also recommends that all Floridians protect themselves against Zika and other Mosquito-transmitted diseases by regularly draining any standing water close to their homes, by covering windows with screens and using Mosquito repellent when outdoors.

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