Health officials confirm first case of locally transmitted Zika in Pinellas County

click to enlarge Different mosquito species are bred in containers at the lab. - Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Different mosquito species are bred in containers at the lab.
Florida health officials Tuesday reported the state's first locally transmitted case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus outside of Miami-Dade County.

The Department of Health announced that a case had been found in Pinellas County, along with four additional locally transmitted cases in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.

Such cases are believed to be caused by mosquito bites in Florida, while hundreds of other cases have stemmed from people bringing the virus into the state after being infected elsewhere.

Few details were immediately available on the case in Pinellas County. Much of the state's focus has been on the Wynwood area, where local transmissions were first discovered, but health officials said Friday that cases also had been found in Miami Beach.

As a sign of concerns about the issue, Scott was scheduled Tuesday to hold roundtable discussions about Zika preparedness in Pinellas and neighboring Pasco counties.

A release by the governor's office indicated that state health officials have begun "mosquito abatement and reduction activities" in Pinellas County, including going door-to-door for outreach and sampling. The virus is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects.

"In Pinellas County, the Department of Health and Pinellas County Mosquito Control are already working together and have begun aggressive spraying and mosquito abatement efforts," Scott said in a prepared statement. "Any pregnant woman who would like to receive a free Zika test or a Zika prevention kit should contact the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County."

As of noon Tuesday, the Department of Health had not posted a daily update about the overall numbers of Zika cases in Florida. But the department said Monday the state had 37 locally transmitted cases of Zika. It also had 494 travel-related infections, which stem from people bringing the virus into the state, and 69 cases involving pregnant women.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women and their partners to avoid the Wynwood and Miami Beach areas in Miami-Dade.

In an updated release Monday, the CDC noted that with the incubation period for Zika lasting up to two weeks it is possible that other neighborhoods in Miami-Dade have active virus transmissions.

On Monday, Scott announced that $5 million from $26.2 million in emergency state funding would go to Miami-Dade County for additional mosquito-control staff, mosquito spraying and community outreach.

Scott also said in Tuesday's announcement that mosquito-control and public-education efforts have allowed the state to "clear" areas of Wynwood where active transmissions are not believed to be occurring.
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