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New Zika Outbreak Hits Popular Tourist Destination Of Miami Beach

"We believe we have a new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami Beach," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday about the Zika situation in the state.
Image credit: Alan Diaz

Mosquitoes have begun spreading the Zika virus in a second part of Miami — the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach — Florida officials announced Friday.

As a result, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its advice to travelers, advising pregnant women to avoid the parts of Miami Beach where the virus is spreading. In addition, women and men who have traveled to the area should wait at least eight weeks to try to get pregnant even if they didn’t catch Zika during their visit.

The agency also advised in a statement that “pregnant women and their sexual partners who are concerns about potential Zika virus exposure may also consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade county.”

Five Zika cases have been linked to the new outbreak in Miami Beach, involving three men and two women from Miami, New York, Texas and Taiwan, officials said. That brings the total number of Zika cases that have been spread by mosquitoes in Florida to 36.

“We believe we have a new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami Beach,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters at a news conference.

Officials believe the virus is only spreading in a 1 1/2 mile part of Miami Beach, but it includes the much-visited South Beach area, Scott said.

The tourism industry in Florida is particularly concerned with the spread of Zika and the impact it may have on businesses. On Thursday, Scott announced measures designed to limit Zika, including offering mosquito spraying free of charge to businesses in Miami-Dade County.

“Tourism is a driving force of Florida’s economy and this industry has the full support of our state in the fight against the Zika virus,” Scott said in a statement.

The new outbreak comes as officials believe they are bringing the first outbreak in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood under control. Officials announced Friday they had cleared three new blocks of Wynwood because there is “no continued evidence of transmission” there. Fourteen blocks had been cleared earlier.

The Wynwood outbreak prompted the CDC to take the unprecedented step of advising pregnant women to stay away from the area. It was the first time the CDC had ever advised people to avoid any part of the continental United States because of an infectious disease.

In response to the Miami Beach outbreak, Scott said he had requested an additional 5,000 Zika tests, additional lab personnel to expedite testing and 10,000 more Zika prevention kits for pregnant women.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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