One new case of Zika virus was confirmed Wednesday in Brevard County, where Melbourne is, expanding the Florida surgeon general’s “declaration of public health emergency” to a new pocket of Florida.
This brings the statewide number of Zika infections to 22, state health department officials said.
Half of the statewide cases are among residents of two South Florida counties: Miami-Dade, with 7 cases, and Broward, with 4.
All cases were acquired outside of Florida and none have involved pregnant women, who are considered particularly sensitive to the mosquito-borne virus due to its suspected link to microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormally small heads in newborn babies.
Anticipating the first locally acquired infection, the Florida Health Department activated a Zika information hotline (855-622-6735) to offer daily updates and answers questions.
State officials established the hotline after Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong declared a public health emergency for the virus, with nine counties affected so far, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Hillsborough, Lee, Osceola, Santa Rosa, St. Johns and Brevard.
Public health officials advise that the best way to prevent transmission of the virus, generally considered low-risk for those with normal immune systems, is for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by draining standing water, covering their skin with repellant and clothing, and covering windows with screens.
Total Zika cases in Florida as of Feb. 17 (all travel-related)
Number of cases
SOURCE: Florida Department of Health