The Zika Virus Has Been Locally Transmitted Hundreds Of Miles Away From Miami

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Florida Governor Rick Scott said Tuesday that a locally transmitted case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Florida has reported four more cases of the Zika virus in Wynwood, a northern Miami neighborhood where the first continental U.S. Zika outbreak was detected.

Pinellas County is over 250 miles from Wynwood, where Zika poses a big enough threat for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to have issued a travel warning to pregnant women. A total of 42 people have been infected with Zika in Florida since the outbreak began.

“Today, we learned that the Florida Department of Health is investigating one new individual with non-travel related Zika in Pinellas County,” Scott said. “While this investigation is ongoing, [the Department of Health] still believes that ongoing active transmissions are only occurring in the two previously identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach.”

The non-travel distinction is important because, as NBC notes, “if a person was infected and has had no contact with a traveler from an affected area, it strongly suggests mosquitoes locally are infected and can spread the virus.” Though the Zika virus has primarily been a concern for pregnant women — Zika is known to cause birth defects — a new study suggests that the virus may attack adult brain cells as well.

On Tuesday, a CNN report told the story of Micaela, one of the first babies in the United States to be born with Zika-related complications. Though her mother, Maria, was repeatedly told by her physician that her Zika infection would not affect the baby’s health, Micaela was born with calcifications in her brain.

(Via Tampa Bay Times, NBC News, & CNN)

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