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With New Tampa Case Zika Seeks Foothold, but Many States have Time on Their Side
August 24th, 2016
By Gary Evans AHC Media Senior Staff Writer
With a new case of apparent mosquito-borne transmission of Zika in the Tampa, FL area and additional cases in Miami, it appears the long-anticipated outbreak of the virus in the U.S. has begun. It may become a significant public health event in Florida and other states or it may fade away like previous outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue and chikungunya in the Sunshine State.
Given the previous spread of those tropical diseases, it is certainly no surprise that Zika made its U.S. debut via Andes egypti mosquitoes in Florida. There could be ongoing spread in that state and other local transmissions via people returning from the Olympics in Brazil, but as Zika finally reaches U.S. mosquito populations in late August many states are already looking ahead to cooler months and less ideal conditions for transmission of the vector-borne virus.
Public health officials reported a case of likely mosquito borne transmission in Pinellas County, which is in the area of St. Petersburgh and Tampa. Few details were being released as they investigated the case, saying the exact area will not be reported unless there is more transmission. The case was one of five new non-travel related cases reported Aug. 23, with the other four in the previously identified Miami-Dade County area.
“The four individuals in Miami-Dade were identified within the Wynwood area and experienced symptoms of Zika in mid-July,” the state health department reported. “However, the cases are being announced today following confirmatory antibody testing to rule out other mosquito-borne illness such as Dengue and Chikungunya.”
The health department has begun door-to-door outreach in Pinellas County and mosquito abatement and reduction activities are also taking place. However, the health department “still believes ongoing transmission is only taking place within the small identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County,” officials reported. “One case does not mean active transmission is taking place.”
Florida now reports a total of 42 non-travel related cases of Zika. There have been 508 cases of travel-related Zika and 70 infections in pregnant women in the state.