Two more cases of the Zika virus in Florida are suspected to have infected local citizens who haven’t traveled outside the U.S. In the midst of this development, blood donations have been halted in two Florida counties while an investigation is underway.
USA Today reports that in total, there are four cases in the state that have surfaced. Blood collections have been stopped in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to the state health department. The request to temporarily cease blood donations came from the Food and Drug Administration until the blood can be tested for the Zika virus. As a precaution, the FDA is advising blood collection centers across the country to not accept any blood donations from those who’ve traveled to Miami-Dade and Broward counties within the past four weeks.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy isn’t discouraging anyone from traveling to south Florida, but if an outbreak erupts, that could be reversed. As it stands, the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas with “widespread, local and continuous transmission” of the virus.
According to NBC News, a CDC spokesman said “evidence is mounting to suggest local transmission via mosquitoes” in southern Florida, saying that the latest cases are patterns similar seen to mosquito-borne outbreaks like Chikungunya.
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FDA is monitoring the Zika virus situation in Florida, and are working closely with the CDC and state public health authorities as news comes that two new cases were detected in two counties. Florida health officials are busy capturing and testing mosquitoes where the two new cases of the Zika virus were discovered in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Roughly 1,660 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Zika after traveling or having sexual relations with a traveler. There have been just 15 cases of the virus being transmitted sexually, however. Although men and women can spread the virus sexually, the majority of infections are a direct result of mosquito bites.
Zika is known to cause terrible birth defects. The CDC reports that only one in five people infected with the Zika virus may show symptomatic signs of fever, muscle aches, rash, and headaches. The virus is spreading more broadly in North American territories. There are about 4,700 cases just in Puerto Rico. As the report notes, 430 pregnant women in the continental U.S. have been diagnosed with Zika, along with 422 in the territories.
Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, believes that there are many more cases going unreported of the Zika virus. Those who are experiencing fevers, aches, headaches, and rash may not even realize they’ve been infected and mistake it for simply not feeling well.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 20, 2016
The CDC is in the midst of investigating a case in Utah where a caregiver caught the virus from an elderly person with high levels of the Zika virus in his blood who wound up dying.
A Zika preparedness budget for $2 million has been set up by the CDC with another $5.6 million allotted.
The Zika virus doesn’t cause serious illness other than the symptoms described, but it’s been linked to a rare and paralyzing condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
People are advised to use insect repellent and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts if they’re in Zika-infested territories.
Is Florida looking more and more like a region in the continental U.S. that will be the site of a Zika virus outbreak?
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