How Zika spreads (and who’s to blame)
Florida health officials on Wednesday confirmed 11 new Zika infections in six counties, including Lake County, which reported its first case this year. In total, 263 people in Florida have contracted the Zika virus since January, though only 28 are still exhibiting symptoms, according to the health department.
The shadow of Zika has grown longer in Florida over the past week, with the health department reporting increasing numbers of infections and the state’s first baby with a birth defect caused by the virus. The silver lining for Florida: none of the Zika cases confirmed so far have been transmitted locally by mosquitoes.
As the number of Zika cases in Florida rises, and Congress fails to act on President Obama’s request for an emergency appropriation of $1.9 billion to combat the spread of the virus, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order on June 23 to spend up to $26.2 million in state funds to prepare and respond to the disease.
Pregnant women and their children are considered to be at greatest risk from the disease. Researchers have concluded that prenatal Zika infection can cause microcephaly and other brain disorders. According to the health department, there are 43 pregnant women in Florida who have contracted the virus this year.
There is no vaccine or specific medical therapy for Zika, which causes symptoms including fever, joint pain, red eyes and rash lasting seven to 10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only one in five people who acquire the disease show symptoms, however.
Zika virus is primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species but also can be transmitted by blood transfusions and by men to their sexual partners.
Zika cases reported in Florida as of July 6
Number of Cases
Total cases not involving pregnant women
Cases involving pregnant women regardless of symptoms*
* Counties of pregnant women not disclosed.
Source: Florida Department of Health