Zika Virus Spreads to Popular Tourist Destination of Miami Beach

Condo buildings are seen April 5, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Condo buildings are seen April 5, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Mosquitoes have begun spreading the Zika virus in a second part of Miami — the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach — Florida officials announced Friday.

As a result, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its advice to travelers, advising pregnant women to avoid the parts of Miami Beach where the virus is spreading. In addition, women and men who have traveled to the area should wait at least eight weeks to try to get pregnant even if they didn’t catch Zika during their visit.

The agency also went a step further, advising pregnant women and their sexual partners “who are concerned about potential Zika virus exposure” that they “may also consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade county.”

That decision to issue a warning about the entire city was prompted by the agency’s concern that there may be other outbreaks in other parts of Miami-Dade that haven’t been identified yet, CDC Director Thomas Frieden told reporters during a briefing.

“What we are doing is stepping back and saying, ‘There have now been multiple instances of local transmission,’ ” Frieden said. “We will always err on providing more information to the public.”

Five Zika cases have been linked to the new outbreak in Miami Beach, involving three men and two women from Miami, New York, Texas and Taiwan, officials said. That brings the total number of Zika cases that have been spread by mosquitoes in Florida to 36.

“We believe we have a new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami Beach,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters at a news conference.

Officials believe the virus is only spreading in a 1 1/2 mile part of Miami Beach, but that area includes the much-visited South Beach area, Scott said.

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SOURCE: NPR, Rob Stein