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Zika virus

Florida’s Zika outbreak is spreading, as pregnant women are told to avoid parts of Miami

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 11:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 8:47pm

Florida state officials have reported five new cases of Zika, with four in a neighbourhood of Miami where the first locally transmitted cases in the country were reported and the fifth on the other side of the state in Pinellas County.

It’s that last case that’s the most worrisome because it might signal that mosquitoes infected with the virus are spreading. But it’s too soon to know, and Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have yet to issue a travel advisory for that area indicating there is active local transmission.

Officials said the person with Zika in Pinellas, which includes the city of St Petersburg, had not travelled internationally but that investigators are looking into the possibility that the virus may have been acquired in a neighbouring county.

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Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that he believes Texas and Louisiana could be hit with local transmissions of Zika next and that the virus could be in US for one to two years.

The CDC has urged pregnant women to consider avoiding Miami’s Wynwood and South Beach areas but this week the areas still remain crowded with tourists. But some visitors shrugged at the travel advisories.

“We really haven’t taken any precautions whatsoever,” one man said. “I guess we should, shouldn’t we?”