Health Care

Florida confirms Miami’s first mosquito-borne case of Zika in 2017

How Zika spreads (and who’s to blame)

The mosquito kills nearly 750,000 people each year. Malaria is the cause for the majority of these deaths, but a Zika outbreak has the Americas scared of this insect. This is how the insect spreads disease to its victims.
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The mosquito kills nearly 750,000 people each year. Malaria is the cause for the majority of these deaths, but a Zika outbreak has the Americas scared of this insect. This is how the insect spreads disease to its victims.

Florida health officials reported Miami-Dade’s first local case of Zika for 2017 on Friday, marking the state’s second case of mosquito-borne transmission of the virus this year.

However, the Florida Department of Health said there are no areas in the state where mosquitoes are actively transmitting Zika, which poses the greatest threat to pregnant women because the virus can cause birth defects and neurological problems in the fetus.

Health officials did not say where in Miami-Dade the person contracted Zika from a mosquito bite, but the person had no history of travel to an area with active transmission by mosquitoes. The infected person, who was not identified, did not have a partner who had recently traveled to an area where Zika is spreading, the health department said

So far this year, Florida health officials have confirmed a total of 217 cases of Zika. The first local case of 2017 spread by mosquitoes in Florida was reported in October in Manatee County.

One sexually transmitted Zika infection was reported in August, though that case was considered to be travel related because the infected person’s partner had recently gone to Cuba, where mosquitoes are reportedly spreading the virus.

Another 183 Zika infections recorded in Florida this year were acquired by people who had traveled to areas where the virus is actively spreading, according to the health department, while 32 cases are attributed to “undetermined exposure in 2016.”

Sloane Borr is pregnant and lives in the Zika zone in Miami. She wears a hazmat suit, beekeeper's hat, gloves and boots when she goes outside the house into her garden to keep herself and her baby Zika free.

Most people infected with Zika do not experience symptoms or will only have mild effects, including fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain and red eyes, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, which can also spread through sexual contact.

Zika sparked a public health crisis in Florida in 2016, with nearly 1,500 infections statewide, including 300 local cases, most spread by mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County. But the virus has waned this year.

Daniel Chang: 305-376-2012, @dchangmiami

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