CDC, JAMES GATHANY
Health officials in Florida announced today (July 29) four cases of Zika infection that were likely acquired through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—the first report of local, mosquito-borne transmission of the virus in the continental U.S., STAT News reported. Authorities believe the individuals—three men and one woman—became infected in early July in a several-block region north of downtown Miami, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is working with Florida health officials to investigate these cases.
“Zika is now here,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters today during a news briefing. “It’s particularly important for pregnant women to avoid mosquito bites in all areas where A. aegypti is present,” he added. This includes wearing long sleeves, applying insect repellent, and staying indoors in screened-in or air-conditioned areas whenever possible.
Florida health officials have already begun mosquito eradication efforts in the area, and are investigating whether other people or mosquitoes are infected. But finding infected insects isn’t easy—“it’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” Frieden noted.
Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stopped blood donations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where the infected individuals live, The Washington Post reported yesterday (July 28). The individuals are not believed to have become infected in these counties, however, Frieden said.
Despite previously warning that pregnant women avoid travel to Puerto Rico, an area of active Zika transmission, the CDC is not currently advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to the affected counties in Florida. “We don’t expect widespread transmission [of Zika] in the continental United States,” Frieden said.