Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced the first local case of Zika outside of South Florida — in Pinellas County — along with four more in Wynwood.
A total of 42 local Zika infections have reportedly been contracted in four Florida counties this year, with one each in Broward, Palm Beach and now Pinellas, and the remainder in Miami-Dade — where health officials have identified two zones where mosquitoes are actively transmitting the disease: Wynwood and Miami Beach.
State health officials also reported 15 new travel related cases, including five in Orange, four in Miami-Dade, three in Osceola, one in Collier, one in Pinellas and one involving a pregnant woman.
The single case in Pinellas does not mean that mosquitoes are spreading Zika to other people in that area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a local outbreak as two or more people infected with Zika who do not share a household, with travel and sexual transmission ruled out, and who acquired the disease within one-square-mile over a period of two weeks or more.
In announcing the news on Tuesday, Scott also declared a small victory in Wynwood — that has not been endorsed by the CDC.
The governor said Florida’s health department has “cleared” about half of the one-square-mile zone of active transmission in Wynwood because more testing for Zika virus has not produced evidence of further transmission.
However, the CDC has not amended its guidelines since the area was identified on July 29. The agency continues to advise pregnant women to avoid the entire one-square-mile area, in addition to a 1.5-square-mile section of Miami Beach.
Pregnant women who were in the Wynwood area after June 15 or in the Miami Beach zone after July 14 are advised to talk with their doctors and consider being tested for Zika, according to the CDC.
County health departments are offering free Zika tests to pregnant women anywhere in the state, and Scott directed Miami-Dade residents who want mosquito control services to contact the county at 311. The state's Zika hotline is 855-622-6735. The Miami-Dade Health Department has clinics at 1350 Northwest 14th Street in Miami, 18255 Homestead Avenue in West Perrine, and 300 Northeast 80th Terrace in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood.
The four additional cases from Wynwood reported on Tuesday are about a month old, health officials said.
“These four individuals experienced Zika symptoms in mid-July. However, they required antibody testing to rule out other mosquito-borne illness such as dengue and chikungunya,” said Mara Gambineri, a health department spokeswoman.
State health officials have not “cleared” any portion of the area in Miami Beach identified on Friday as the county’s second front against local spread of Zika.
A total of 620 people in Florida have contracted Zika this year, including 508 cases acquired while traveling outside the country. At least 70 pregnant women in Florida have tested positive for the virus. The health department is currently conducting nine investigations into local Zika cases
As Zika spreads in South Florida, the CDC announced a new travel notice for the virus in the Bahamas, where local transmission by mosquitoes has been reported on the island of New Providence, which includes the capital, Nassau.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid traveling to the Bahamas, and those returning to the continental United States from the Caribbean archipelago are advised take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so that they don’t spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.
Zika cases reported in Florida as of Aug. 23
Number of Cases
Total cases not involving pregnant women
. . .
. . .
Cases involving pregnant women regardless of symptoms*
* Counties of pregnant women are not disclosed.
** Does not include local cases.
Source: Florida Department of Health.