Florida lifts Zika trans­mis­sion zone in parts of Mi­ami Beach

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Florida of­fi­cials re­moved part of Mi­ami Beach from an ac­tive Zika trans­mis­sion zone on Tues­day, say­ing more than 45 days had passed since the last lo­cal case of the mos­quito-borne virus that has been linked to mi­cro­cephaly, a rare birth de­fect.

Pop­u­lar ar­eas in the south­ern part of the sea­side tourist des­ti­na­tion, how­ever, remain in a des­ig­nated zone of ac­tive Zika trans­mis­sion. The area of ac­tive trans­mis­sion in Mi­ami Beach is now about 1.5 square miles (2.4 km). The newly cleared area cov­ers about three square miles, Florida Gover­nor Rick Scott said in a state­ment.

State of­fi­cials believe Zika is still be­ing trans­mit­ted in another small area of Mi­ami-Dade County, in ad­di­tion to the re­main­ing sec­tion of Mi­ami Beach. Mos­qui­toes be­gan spread­ing the virus this sum­mer in Florida, bring­ing lo­cal Zika trans­mis­sion to the con­ti­nen­tal United States. “Un­til we have a vac­cine, this is go­ing to be some­thing we’re go­ing to deal with,” Scott said at a news con­fer­ence in Mi­ami Beach. “We’re go­ing to be ac­tive, and we’ve learned a lot,” he added.

On Tues­day, the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion said as of Nov. 16 there were 4,255 cases of Zika re­ported in the con­ti­nen­tal United States and Hawaii. Of the to­tal re­ported Zika cases, 35 are be­lieved to be through sex­ual trans­mis­sion and one case from lab ex­po­sure.

Florida on Tues­day sep­a­rately said it has seen 1,201 cases of Zika, and 236 of them were lo­cally ac­quired in­fec­tions, ac­cord­ing to the state health depart­ment. The CDC also up­dated its travel guid­ance for the Mi­ami area, urg­ing con­tin­ued caution. It has sug­gested that preg­nant women con­sider post­pon­ing travel any­where in Mi­ami-Dade County, but it ex­pressly di­rects preg­nant women to avoid travel to ar­eas within the county that are still des­ig­nated as Zika trans­mis­sion zones.

Zika in­fec­tions in preg­nant women have been shown to cause mi­cro­cephaly - a se­vere birth de­fect in which the head and brain of ba­bies are un­der­sized and un­der­de­vel­oped - as well as other brain ab­nor­mal­i­ties. A re­port on Tues­day raised new con­cerns about the hid­den ef­fects of pre-na­tal ex­po­sure to Zika, show­ing some ba­bies in Brazil grad­u­ally de­vel­oped mi­cro­cephaly in the months fol­low­ing birth.

The de­vel­op­ments come after the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion de­clared the global Zika emer­gency over on Friday, be­cause the link be­tween Zika and mi­cro­cephaly has been con­firmed. WHO in­tends to con­tinue study­ing Zika as a se­ri­ous in­fec­tious dis­ease that will re­quire years of re­search.

The con­nec­tion be­tween Zika and mi­cro­cephaly first came to light last year in Brazil, which has since con­firmed more than 2,100 cases of mi­cro­cephaly. In adults, Zika in­fec­tions have also been linked to a rare neu­ro­log­i­cal syn­drome known as Guil­lain-Barre, as well as other neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders. — Reuters

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