Reports of new local Zika cases hit Miami Beach


The Zika virus has officially hit Miami Beach, with at least one city official confirming that two new non-travel related cases have been reported there.

City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez on Thursday confirmed to The Real Deal that there were two reported cases within the city, though it’s unclear where they are located in Miami Beach.

“We don’t want to panic people,” she said. “We have yet to find a [Zika] positive mosquito.”

She stressed that the virus can also be transmitted sexually, and the importance now is to educate people about Zika. The virus chiefly affects pregnant women, potentially causing birth defects like microcephaly. For others, Zika can present symptoms like rash and fever, or possibly none at all.

Both the New York Times and the Miami Herald, citing unnamed state health officials, reported Thursday that a section of Miami Beach could soon be designated as an active Zika transmission area.

In its daily Zika update on Thursday, the Florida Department of Health also confirmed that two non-travel related cases had popped up outside of Wynwood. However, the agency declined to say where.

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The agency also said it believes the one-square-mile area in Wynwood to still be the only place where Zika is actively being transmitted in the U.S. The CDC encourages pregnant women to stay away from the neighborhood until its status as an active transmission zone has been cleared.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales tweeted that Miami Beach is working with the county to remove potential mosquito breeding sites, educate residents and businesses, as well as deploy larvicide and mosquito-killing fog.

(Click to enlarge) Wynwood's active transmission zone

(Click to enlarge) Wynwood’s active transmission zone

The news will likely have an impact of Miami Beach’s tourism industry. Businesses in Wynwood suffered in the weeks following Zika’s arrival in the neighborhood, with at least one venue — the Wynwood Yard — temporarily shutting its doors and others griping about non-stop media coverage hurting foot traffic.

“One case does not mean active transmission is taking place and that’s why the department conducts a thorough investigation by sampling close contacts and community members around each case to determine if additional people are infected,” the agency wrote.

It’s currently investigating nine possible cases outside the one-square-mile in Wynwood to determine where the individuals came into contact with Zika.