Florida likely has the first cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland, the state’s governor said Friday.
No mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for Zika, but one woman and three men in Miami-Dade and Broward counties likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites, Gov. Rick Scott said during a news conference in Orlando.
More than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the U.S., but the four patients in Florida would be the first not linked to travel outside the U.S. mainland.
Over the past week, four unexplained Zika cases have emerged in Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties (which are adjacent to each other), prompting speculation that local mosquitoes are now spreading the dreaded disease. Governor Scott admitted that no mosquitoes in Florida have tested positive for the virus, but the signs are all pointing to this grim conclusion. “Florida has become the first state in our country to have a local transmission of the Zika virus,” he said.
Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there’s sufficient evidence to assume that mosquitoes are now spreading the disease in Florida. Accordingly, the CDC has recommended that blood centers in the two Florida counties stop taking donations, and suggests that blood centers in adjacent counties do the same.
For most people, Zika produces relatively mild symptoms, like fever and rash, but for pregnant women—particularly those in the first and second trimesters—it can result in serious birth defects, including abnormally small heads.