An outbreak of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Florida, marking the first time the virus has been found to be transmitted via infected mosquitoes within the continental U.S.
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The outbreak has infected at least four people, three men and one woman, through local transmission, Florida officials said today.
“This means Florida has become the first state in our nation to have local transmission of the Zika virus," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said today.
Scott said a small area in northern Miami that is about a square mile in size is the only area where the Zika virus is being transmitted from mosquitoes to people.
"We’re being very aggressive at testing people there we are testing the mosquitoes there and we spraying to make sure it’s contained," Scott said. He said health officials do not think that the transmission was ongoing.
The Florida Health Department has been giving Zika prevention kits to pregnant women in the affected area and warning residents to eliminate standing water to help cut down on the risk of mosquitoes breeding near them. The virus has been found to cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, which is characterized by abnormally small head and brain, leading to significant developmental problems.
"We know this virus is most detrimental to expectant mothers," Scott said. "If you are pregnant or think you might become pregnant contact your OB/Gyn."
The state is working with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to monitor and combat the outbreak, Scott said. He expressed disappointment that Congress did not pass a bill to allocate funding to the CDC to prepare and combat the Zika virus.
"This is not just a Florida issue. This is a U.S. issue it is a national issue. We’re just the front of it," he said during a news conference.
More than 1,650 people have been diagnosed with Zika within the U.S., but the vast majority have been people who contracted the virus while abroad. A small number of people contracted the Zika virus through sexual transmission within the U.S.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.