Health officials are recommending pregnant women not travel to an area in Miami Beach that is confirmed to have some local transmission of the Zika virus from mosquitoes.
On Friday, after Florida confirmed five cases of Zika believed to be contracted in an area of Miami Beach, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a recommendation that pregnant women should avoid travel to the area. The agency had already advised pregnant women not to travel to an area north of downtown Miami called Wynwood, which also has some local transmission of the virus.
“We believe we have a new area where local transmission is occurring in Miami Beach,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott during a press conference on Friday. There are now 36 cases of Zika from local mosquitoes in Florida. Scott said that among the five cases there are people from New York, Texas and Taiwan who were infected in the Miami Beach area. The affected area in Miami beach is less than 1.5 square miles.
Pregnant couples in or traveling to the area are asked to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, sexual transmission, and consider postponing non-essential travel to Miami Dade County altogether. While the virus has not been found to be spreading in other areas of Miami, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press conference that it is possible there could be local transmission of the virus in other areas that hasn’t been discovered yet. The CDC says it’s most concerned about the designated Wynwood Miami Beach areas. You can see a map of the locations, here.
“We understand this is concerning, especially for pregnant women,” said Frieden, adding that the CDC will continue to support the state and local communities. It is in the process of fulfilling a request from Florida Governor Rick Scott for 5,00o Zika antibody test kits
How long the outbreak will continue remains to be seen, though Florida has been doing active mosquito control for some time. “The mosquitoes are persistent and we won’t know for a least a couple of weeks if these aggressive control measures have worked,” said Frieden.
The CDC also recommends that all pregnant women living in the United States be evaluated for possible exposure to Zika during every prenatal visit.
So far there are 2,260 cases of Zika reported in the continental United States and Hawaii, which includes 529 pregnant women. Twenty two of those cases are thought to be due to sexual transmission.