US mosquito-borne Zika cases reach 14 in Florida

The number of confirmed mosquito-transmitted cases of Zika virus in the continental United States has grown by 10 cases, the governor of Florida said Monday.

Combined with the first four cases announced last week, the total number of US citizens infected with the virus via mosquito has reached 14, Governor Rick Scott said.

"Today, [the Florida Department of Health] has confirmed that 10 additional people have contracted the Zika virus locally, likely through a mosquito bite," Scott said in a statement.

He said the state health authorities believe the transmissions are occurring within the same square mile in Miami.

Scott also called upon the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to send an emergency team to assist in the testing of individuals in the south-eastern state.

White House spokesman Eric Shultz said that US President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation and that a CDC team was being deployed" in short order so that we will be able to work with Gov Scott's team on the ground in South Florida."

The CDC recommended Monday that pregnant women avoid the specific Miami area after weekend tests showed "there is a risk of continued active transmission of Zika virus" from mosquitoes there.

"With the new information that there are active mosquitoes still in the area and additional Zika infections, we conclude that pregnant women should avoid this area – and make every effort to prevent mosquito bites if they live or work there,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement.

Previous reported cases of Zika virus in the United States involved people who had been infected while traveling or via sexual transmission, and the latest cases mark a shift for US health officials who have warned that the disease could become more widespread if infected mosquitoes reached the US.

The virus is spread primarily via mosquitoes, and Latin America has faced an outbreak in recent months. The virus generally causes mild symptoms in adults, but can cause severe birth defects in the children of pregnant women who become infected with the virus.

Last update: Mon, 01/08/2016 - 23:22

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