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Healthy Living

Zika Could Be Spreading Beyond Miami's Defined Transmission Area

Officials are looking into a new confirmed Zika case outside the Wynwood neighborhood.
Fran Middlebrooks uses a blower to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos Aug. 4, 2016 in Miami, as Miami Dade county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak.
Fran Middlebrooks uses a blower to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos Aug. 4, 2016 in Miami, as Miami Dade county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak.

The Florida Health Department confirmed three new local Zika cases in Miami-Dade county on Friday. One of those cases was located outside of the boundary thought to contain the only local Zika outbreak in the United States ― a less than one-square-mile area in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.

The health department’s website noted that the investigation into this third case is just beginning and that the department would work to eradicate and control mosquitos in the area of interest. It’s unclear whether this third patient lives and works outside of Wynwood, has never been to Wynwood, or if those things are still under investigation.

It appears, however, that experts’ previous criticism of the CDC’s narrow Zika transmission travel warning was on target: “To assume that it’s just restricted to these few square blocks is presumptuous,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told Reuters on August 1.

Despite this new case, Florida Health Department officials reaffirmed the previously drawn Wynwood boundary, stating on their website: “The department still believes active transmissions are only taking place within the identified area that is less than one-square mile in Miami-Dade county.”

The three new local cases were announced in conjunction with 10 additional travel-related cases of Zika virus in Florida, four in Orange, two in Miami-Dade, one in Leon, one in Palm Beach and one in Sarasota counties. At last count, Florida had 413 travel related infections, 28 local infections and 58 cases of Zika virus in pregnant women.

The situation is especially concerning for pregnant women because the virus is linked to the severe birth defect microcephaly, which causes babies to have smaller than normal heads and can result in developmental disabilities, seizures, seizures, feeding problems, learning issues and vision loss. The virus is also linked to arthrogryposis, a birth defect that causes infants to be born with malformed joints that can’t extend properly.

The Florida Health Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

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