U.S. Health Authorities Warn Against Travel to Zika "Transmission Zone" in Florida After More Cases Discovered

AP Photo/Andre Penner, File via Newscred

by Agence France-presse, The Daily Telegraph, August 01, 2016

Zika fears prompted US health authorities on Monday to issue a travel warning for a small section of Miami where local mosquitoes have spread the virus to 14 people, officials said.

"We advise pregnant women to avoid travel to this area," said Centres for Disease Control and Prevention chief Tom Frieden, noting that the virus can cause the birth defect, Microcephaly.

The area to avoid is inside a one-mile section north of downtown Miami, a popular arts and restaurant district known as Wynwood.

Women who are pregnant and may have travelled to the area since June 15 are urged to talk with their doctor, Frieden added.

Women in the area who are pregnant are also urged to use barrier protection during sex, or to abstain in order to lower the risk of transmission from a partner.

He also recommended people use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves, repair screens and drain any standing water in the area to prevent the spread of the mosquitoes.

"In Miami, aggressive mosquito control measures don't seem to be working as well as we would have liked," said Frieden.

He said it was possible that mosquitoes are resistant to insecticides currently being used, or that they may have hidden breeding areas that haven't been found yet.

Frieden said most people with Zika do not show any symptoms.

"Nothing that we have seen indicates widespread transmission but it is certainly possible there could be sustained transmission in certain areas."

On Friday, Florida officials announced the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the United States with all four linked to the same area in Miami.

Early Monday, Governor Rick Scott said the number of identified cases had jumped by 10 to 14.

The cases mark the first time the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects and is considered particularly dangerous for pregnant women, is known to be spreading via local mosquitoes in the United States.

Over 1,600 cases of Zika have been previously reported in the US, but most were brought by travellers who were infected elsewhere. The virus can also spread by sexual contact.

The CDC is sending an emergency team of specialists to augment its response, Frieden said.

Zika is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and also by sexual contact.

Two of the 14 cases involve women and the rest are men.

Funding for the Zika response has been a source of dispute among US lawmakers.

President Barack Obama asked for $1.9 billion in February, but Republicans protested, saying the money should be taken from funds previously set aside for Ebola. Congress went on summer recess last month without approving any legislation for Zika funds.

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This article was written by Agence France-presse from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.