There were no new Zika cases — either local or travel-related — in Florida on Wednesday.
In its daily update, the Florida Department of Health confirmed the number of total cases in the state remained at 406, with 55 of the infections involving pregnant women. As of Wednesday, there were 15 locally transmitted cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with the majority of the cases stemming from mosquito bites in the Wynwood area, health department officials said.
The only area with active transmission of the virus is the one-square mile area in Wynwood, the department stressed. Although there were two reported cases in Broward County, one of those came from a person bitten within the Wynwood area, health officials have said. The other Broward case appears to have been an isolated incident that occurred outside the designated area.
On Tuesday, the Florida Health Department said another new case had been confirmed in Miami-Dade, this one outside of Wynwood. Health department officials are investigating and did not identify the location of this latest case.
Meanwhile, workers from the county’s mosquito control department have been busy spraying pesticides throughout Wynwood this week and have been inspecting properties and educating residents about eliminating standing water from planters, trash cans, tires and other areas in their yards.
On Thursday, the county plans to launch an aerial spraying campaign of the 10-mile area around the neighborhood. Heavy rains on Wednesday had postponed the spraying.
Although most people with Zika show no symptoms, pregnant woman who contract the virus are at risk of giving birth to babies with smaller heads and not fully developed brains, a condition known as microcephaly. In June, a baby was born in Florida with microcephaly, at least the fifth child born in the United States with this birth defect.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has 80 healthy volunteers participating in an early-stage study to develop a Zika vaccine, the Institute announced Wednesday.
“NIAID worked expeditiously to ready a vaccine candidate, and results in animal testing have been very encouraging. We are pleased that we are now able to proceed with this initial study in people,” said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. “Although it will take some time before a vaccine against Zika is commercially available, the launch of this study is an important step forward.”
This experimental vaccine injects a chunk of DNA with the same code as the Zika virus into a patient’s arm. Cells in the arm muscle read the gene and create small Zika-like particles. The body creates antibodies and defends itself from the Zika-like proteins. The patient doesn’t actually catch the virus, and hopefully, after the vaccine, won’t be infected.