Florida Gov. Rick Scott has confirmed the first case of the Zika virus has been found to be transmitted via infected mosquitoes within the state of Florida, marking the first in the U.S. The outbreak has infected at least four people through local transmission, Florida officials said Friday.
“We learned today that four people in our state likely have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite,” Gov. Scott said in a statement. “All four of these people live in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and the Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami.”
The exact location is within the boundaries of the following area: 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. This area is about 1 square mile.
“This means Florida has become the first state in our nation to have local transmission of the Zika virus,” he added Friday.
Until now, there were zero locally acquired mosquito-borne cases reported within the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travel-associated cases accounted for 1,657 of the 1,658 total reported, including 15 being sexually transmitted, with the other being laboratory acquired (1) and the result of Guillain-Barré syndrome (5). Locally acquired cases reported in U.S. territories outside the Continental United States (CONUS) have now reached 4,750.
In June, the Florida Department of Health confirmed a Haitian national who immigrated solely to give birth did so to the first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly in the state. The mother was infected with the Zika virus in Haiti before she was allowed to travel to the United States, specifically the state of Florida.
Microcephaly is a neurological condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected and can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. As a lifelong condition, there is no known cure or standard treatment for microcephaly.
Babies born with the disease have a series of lifelong problems, including developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems. All of the problems require significant treatments as it relates to the cost of health care, which the U.S. taxpayer will have to pick up.
Gov. Scott directed the Florida DOH to activate the Joint Information Center (JIC) within the State Emergency Operations Center to ensure impacted areas have coordinated access to information and resources. As part of this effort, the governor directed DOH to contract with commercial pest control companies to enhance and expand mosquito mitigation and abatement, including increased spraying, in the impacted areas.
“We know this virus is most detrimental to expecting mothers. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant and live in the impacted area, I urge you to contact your OB/GYN for guidance and to receive a Zika Prevention kit,” Gov. Scott said. “I also ask every Floridian to take proper precautions by eliminating any standing water and wearing insect repellent.”
The Zika virus typically causes a mild rash, fever and joint pain. While only one in five people infected with the virus are symptomatic, the virus can cause serious problems for pregnant women.