Health Care

New Zika infections in Miami-Dade, Orange counties; state total 28 cases

A researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend puts his hand inside a container filled with mosquitoes on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The latex glove protects the researcher from mosquito bites.
A researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend puts his hand inside a container filled with mosquitoes on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The latex glove protects the researcher from mosquito bites. AP

One new case of Zika was confirmed in Miami-Dade and one in Orange County over the weekend, state health officials said Monday, bringing the statewide total to 28 incidents of the viral infection.

All of the confirmed Zika infections in Florida and the continental United States were acquired outside the country, public health officials reported.

None of the Florida cases involves pregnant women, considered to be at greatest risk because of a strongly suspected link between an outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and a concurrent spike in microcephaly, a condition in which a newborn’s head is smaller than expected, which can lead to developmental issues.

In January, public health officials in Hawaii reported the first case of a baby born with microcephaly potentially related to Zika. The mother likely had the Zika infection when she was residing in Brazil in May 2015, Hawaii health officials said, and her newborn acquired the infection in the womb.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 82 cases of Zika infection in the continental United States as of Feb. 17, with no cases transmitted locally within any state.

Researchers are also investigating a potential causal link between Zika and microcephaly and other neurological disorders, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

Diagnosis of Zika is complicated by the fact that four out of five people infected do not show symptoms, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead U.S. agency tasked with combating the virus’ spread.

People who do show symptoms typically experience a fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, which can last from a few days to one week.

The virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are found in Florida, but the CDC reports that Zika can also be transmitted by a man to his sex partners and through blood transfusions. The CDC recommends that men who might have been exposed to the virus consider abstaining or using a condom.

$1.8 billion Emergency funding requested from Congress by White House to combat Zika virus.

As the virus spreads rapidly through Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean, public health officials in the United States and abroad have scrambled to learn more about the long-term effects and transmission of Zika.

There is no vaccine against Zika virus, which remains in a person’s bloodstream from 10 days to two weeks. Once a person is infected with Zika virus, they are immune to future infections, according to health officials.

This month, state Surgeon General John Armstrong declared a public health emergency in the counties where infected individuals reside, allowing for increased mosquito control and other measures. Hawaii and Puerto Rico also have declared states of emergency related to Zika.

Armstrong is scheduled to testify before a subcommittee of Congress this week, during which he will discuss Florida’s response and preparations related to Zika virus.

Zika cases in Florida as of Feb. 22 (all acquired outside state)

County

Number of Cases

Alachua

1

Brevard

1

Broward

4

Hillsborough

3

Lee

3

Miami-Dade

11

Orange

2

Osceola

1

Santa Rosa

1

St. Johns

1

Total

28

Source: Florida Department of Health

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