Florida Zika Case May Be Scariest One Yet

Infection may be from US mosquito, though health officials checking every possible cause
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2016 10:44 AM CDT
Florida Zika Case May Be Scariest One Yet
No one's playing "Welcome to Miami" for mosquitoes possibly carrying the Zika virus in Florida.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

There have been more than 1,300 reported cases of Zika reported in the US so far, per the CDC, but a new case in Florida is especially worrisome: The Florida Department of Health says it's looking into what may be the first non-travel-related infection in the continental US, meaning the virus could be harbored by local mosquitoes, CNN reports. Florida health officials have teamed up with the CDC to look into the infection in Miami-Dade County, which claims the highest number of Zika cases in the state (88 to date this year, including seven reported this week), per the Miami Herald. The affected neighborhood, which hasn't been named, has already been sprayed down, and Zika prevention kits and bug repellent are being distributed and made available for pickup in the county. "It was only a matter of time before the right circumstances aligned in Florida," a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Health Security tells NBC News.

But although there's the possibility the disease may be flying around in local bugs, it's still a big "may": The state DOH is exploring every transmission possibility, including the fact that the infection may somehow be tied to travel outside the country, a rep tells CNN; cases of those who have sex with individuals who traveled to Zika hot spots are still considered travel-related cases. The virus has not only been linked to microcephaly and other birth defects in babies, but also to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes leading to paralysis. The CDC and health officials are also checking out a puzzling case in Utah, the site of the first Zika-related death on the US mainland, per the Herald; a "family contact" of the deceased, who had traveled outside the US, also contracted the disease. (A "startling" first in Zika transmission happened in NYC.)

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