Five cases of local Zika virus transmission have been reported in Miami Beach, widening the area of Zika exposure after a week of hopeful speculation that the outbreak had been contained.
CNN reports that, on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control advised pregnant women not to visit the area of concern and also cautioned those who have visited the area since July 14 to “be aware that active transmission of the virus is occurring.”
“Pregnant women should talk to their health care providers about testing, and anyone with a partner who is pregnant should follow recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of the virus,” the CDC advised.
According to Florida Governor Rick Scott, the affected area is about 1.5 square miles, “running from the beach to the Intracoastal Waterway and from Eighth Street to 28th Street.”
As USA Today points out, the area Scott described covers “South Beach, the vibrant community that’s located across Biscayne Bay from the rest of Miami and known for its pastel-colored buildings and art deco architecture.”
Unfortunately, the CDC considers it possible that other parts of Miami-Dade county could have Zika cases that have not been identified, so pregnant women and their sexual partners were advised to “consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Date County” — a striking escalation of the alert previously centered on the fairly small Wynwood community.
The New York Times speculates that CDC officials want to “sound the alarm about possible Zika spread in a much larger area of South Florida,” while state officials prefer to keep the advisory areas small, to avoid disrupting business and tourism.
Scott nevertheless said aggressive mosquito control efforts had cleared a total of 17 blocks of the Wynwood area, based on tests administered to residents.
“We have two small areas. One less than a mile, and we’ve already been able to reduce the footprint. We have another area now that’s 1.5 miles on Miami Beach. That’s out of a state that takes 15 hours to drive from Key West to Pensacola, so let’s put things in perspective,” said Scott.
USA Today quotes CDC director Thomas Frieden explaining that mosquito control is difficult in Miami Beach, due to the large number of high-rise buildings, a problem for airplanes that must fly at only 100 feet to dispense pesticide.
There are now a total of 36 known cases of Zika virus transmission in Florida, plus 479 travel-related cases, bringing the total number of Zika infections in the United States up to 2,260.
Scott said the five new Zika cases included three men and two women. Two of them were Florida residents, while the others were visitors from New York, Texas, and Taiwan.