Health Care

New Zika infection in Broward brings Florida’s total cases to 21

This recent photo shows eggs and larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is one of the known carriers of the Zika virus. Florida health officials report 21 confirmed cases of Zika virus infection, all acquired outside the state.
This recent photo shows eggs and larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is one of the known carriers of the Zika virus. Florida health officials report 21 confirmed cases of Zika virus infection, all acquired outside the state. AP

One new case of Zika virus infection in Broward County was confirmed over the weekend, pushing the total number of cases in Florida to 21, state health officials reported on Monday.

Nearly half of the statewide total of Zika infections are among residents of two South Florida counties: Miami-Dade, with 7 cases, and Broward, with 4.

No local mosquito-borne Zika virus infections have been confirmed in Florida or any state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the virus has spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America in the past year.

Additionally, none of the cases confirmed in Florida involve pregnant women, who are considered to be at greatest risk because of a suspected link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a birth defect. The CDC has not reported whether any Zika cases in other states involve pregnant women.

Anticipating the first locally acquired infection, the Florida health department activated a Zika information hotline on Feb. 12 (855-622-6735) offering daily updates and answers to questions from the public.

State officials established the hotline after Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong declared a public health emergency for the virus, with eight counties affected so far, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Hillsborough, Lee, Osceola, Santa Rosa and St. Johns.

As Zika infections have spread across the Western Hemisphere, physicians and researchers have raced to learn more about the virus, how it’s transmitted, and the exact impact on an individual’s health.

On Feb. 12, the CDC issued a new warning about the virus — advising Americans that Zika can be transmitted by a man to his sex partners. The CDC advises men who might have been exposed to Zika to consider abstaining or using a condom.

According to the CDC, Zika symptoms are generally mild with a rash, fever, joint pain and red eye. The agency has advised women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant to avoid areas where the virus is being transmitted.

Public health officials advise that the best way to prevent transmission of the virus 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.

Daniel Chang: 305-376-2012, @dchangmiami

Total Zika cases in Florida as of Feb. 15 (all travel related)

County

Number of Cases

Alachua

1

Broward

4

Hillsborough

3

Lee

3

Miami-Dade

7

Osceola

1

Santa Rosa

1

St. Johns

1

Total

21

Source: Florida Department of Health

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