Florida health officials said Tuesday they were investigating a possible case of Zika that wasn’t carried back by a traveler.
If it’s confirmed, it would be the first evidence that Zika has spread to mosquitoes in the continental U.S. All cases up to now have been in people who traveled to Zika-affected regions or their sexual partners.
Small, local outbreaks of Zika virus are fully expected in southern states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas. These states are home to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that most commonly transmit the virus.
“Today the Florida Department of Health announced that it is conducting an investigation into a possible non-travel related case of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County,” the health department said in a statement.
“The department is actively conducting an epidemiological investigation, is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and will share additional details as they become available.”
The CDC said it will help investigate.
“At this time, state and local officials in Florida are leading the investigation, and CDC is closely coordinating with Florida officials. To date, Florida public health officials have confirmed Zika infection through laboratory testing; upon request, CDC will conduct additional laboratory testing,” the agency said in a statement.
“CDC has been working with state, local, and territorial health officials to prepare for the possibility of locally acquired Zika infection in the United States.”
Zika can be transmitted by mosquitoes and, less commonly, through sex. The CDC has predicted that a traveler would eventually be bitten by local mosquitoes and infect them with the virus. After about 10 days, an infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to another person.
But in the U.S., it’s less common for people to live in the conditions that allow the virus to cause a full epidemic. So the CDC predicts any outbreaks would be limited.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Maggie Fox