With global attention heavily focused on Zika epicenter Rio, Brazil, Miami officials have confirmed another clustered outbreak of the virus. On Wednesday, health officials announced three new cases of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Thus far, 557 Floridians have contracted Zika virus in 2016. As the daunting realism and specter of Zika has negatively affected Rio Olympic monetary figures, Florida's tourism industry is bracing for similar financial losses. Annually, Miami's famed South Beach generates an estimated $24 billion in statewide revenue. With Zika closing in on the sunshine state's hottest tourist destination, a streamlined effort to mitigate damage has begun.
While a large amount of Florida's annual income remains in peril, Miami City Manager Jimmy Morales has enacted swift countermeasures as of Thursday morning.
"Our strategy has been and will continue to be focusing on the elimination of potential breeding sites and educating our residents and businesses on what they need to do. We are also working with the county and they are also inspecting and as needed mitigating through techniques like cleanups, larvicides and fogging."
"While the department is continuing to investigate areas in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties where local transmissions of Zika may have occurred, the department still believes active transmissions are still only occurring in the area that is less than one square mile in Miami-Dade County. If investigations reveal additional areas of likely active transmission, the department will announce a defined area of concern."
Miami's Wynwood neighborhood was identified by Mr. Scott June 29 as the continental United States' first area to suffer ongoing Zika outbreaks. The Wynwood zone lays claim to a staggering majority of the aforementioned 557 virus occurrences.
While Zika virus is potentially dangerous to all who contract its symptoms, due to crippling birth defects, pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Startlingly, 26 pregnant women within the Wynwood zone (just 17 miles from South Beach) tested positive for the virus.
The Atlanta-based Centers For Disease Control (CDC) stated, "Pregnant women who live in the affected area should routinely take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and should practice safe sex to prevent transmission of the virus."
CDC officials then stated women and men who travel to Miami should wait at least eight weeks before attempting to conceive a child, while men who exhibit Zika symptoms should wait a minimum of six months.
Although the most common Zika-related birth defect is microcephaly, other defects include hardened calcium deposits in the brain, breakdown of brain tissue, brain swelling, and poor growth in fetuses.
Though in adults, rash, slight fever, joint pain, and itchy eyes are the most common Zika-related hindrances, microcephaly in infants is far more daunting.
Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, who serves as dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, states, "I think we've clarified the link between Zika and microcephally and other birth defects. In microcephally, a baby's much smaller-than-average head size is accompanied by a smaller brain and developmental difficulties."
Have you or someone you know been affected by Florida's Zika virus outbreak? If so leave a comment below describing your story.
[AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee]