In a highly unusual travel warning, health officials advised pregnant women to avoid a part of Miami where mosquitoes are apparently transmitting Zika directly to humans.
Health officials last Friday announced that mosquitoes have apparently started spreading Zika on the U.S. mainland, citing four cases they strongly believe were caused by bites. Ten more cases were announced Monday, even though Florida authorities have not yet found mosquitoes actually carrying the virus.
The 14 infected people include two women and twelve men. Eight patients showed symptoms of Zika, which can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The others had no symptoms. The disease is often so mild that most people don’t know they are infected.
All 14 cases are thought to have occurred in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, a trendy, fast-gentrifying neighbourhood of warehouses, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques.
Rosemary LeBranch was doing laundry in Wynwood when health officials came to her house a few days ago and took urine samples from her, her daughter and her father. Her father, Gabriel Jean, tested positive for Zika, she said Monday.
He had already spoken with a doctor and was advised to wear long shirts and pants outdoors. “He said nothing hurts; he doesn’t have any pain. He doesn’t feel anything,” she said.
More than 1,650 cases of Zika have been reported in U.S. Almost all have been the result of either travel to a Zika-stricken country or sex with someone who was infected abroad, but the number of infected people in the country is more than a dozen.
Florida health officials said they have tested more than 200 people in Miami-Dade and Broward counties since early July. An emergency response team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help Florida authorities investigate the outbreak, collect samples and control mosquitoes.
Scott asked for a CDC emergency team to help Florida combat Zika, which has been sweeping Latin America and the Caribbean in recent months and now may be gaining a long-dreaded foothold in the U.S. The White House said a team will be sent quickly.
“We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement Monday.