-- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced today that Florida is now clear of locally-transmitted Zika for the first time since July. Since the Zika outbreak was announced in the state, four zones of ongoing Zika transmission had been identified and subsequently cleared in recent months.
Today the last "Zika zone" in the state, located in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, was declared free of the Zika virus transmission.
"The South Beach area now does not have any local transmission of Zika and that's a very good day for our state," Scott told reporters.
The Zika outbreak in Florida was the first time the virus had spread via mosquitoes in the continental United States. Texas announced its first case of locally transmitted Zika virus last month.
Scott called the end of the outbreak an "outstanding day."
"We're going to make sure that everybody knows that this state is open for business," Scott said.
As a result of the announcement, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was lifting the "red area" designation for South Beach neighborhood. The designation warned pregnant women and couples planning to get pregnant to avoid the area.
Miami-Dade County is still considered a "cautionary" yellow area by the CDC due to past transmissions of the Zika virus.
"Florida’s rapid response and comprehensive mosquito control program has allowed them to interrupt Zika transmission, but we must stay vigilant and also take what we have learned and be prepared for next season,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement today. “Pregnant women who live or have been to this area should continue to be evaluated for Zika exposure during their prenatal visits to prevent the devastating effects Zika can cause in their infants.”
There have been 249 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The Zika virus is primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and generally causes mild symptoms in adults. But when a pregnant woman is infected, it is associated with an increased risk of birth defects, including microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head or brain. It can result in diminished mental capacity or other developmental delays.