The first outbreak of Zika virus in the continental U.S. was declared over Monday, even as more Zika-infected mosquitoes were found in a nearby Zika zone.
No new case of Zika has been found in the Wynwood area in the north of Miami for 45 days, so the up-and-coming arts and foodie district has been declared free of local transmission.
Thorough mosquito control efforts have brought the outbreak under control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Still, the CDC says pregnant women or those seeking to become pregnant need to be cautious.
“No new cases of locally transmitted Zika have been reported in the Wynwood-designated area since early August,” the CDC said in a statement.
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Fewer mosquitoes have been found in Wynwood’s traps, as well. The agency said credit goes to the aerial spraying of the controversial pesticide naled, along with use of a larvicide that uses mosquito-killing bacteria.
“We have had no additional cases of local transmission in the area since the beginning of August because we were proactive, aggressive and responsible in our approach to reducing the mosquito population,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.
The 45 days represents three full incubation periods for Zika virus. It takes people a while to become infected after they are bitten by a mosquito, then to develop symptoms. And it takes a while for a mosquito to bite someone, become infected, and for that mosquito to then bite someone else and infect them.
That doesn’t mean the threat is gone, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
“Still, we encourage people not to let down their guard. We could see additional cases,” Frieden said in a statement.
“People living in or visiting Miami-Dade County, particularly pregnant women, are encouraged to continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and to follow guidelines for preventing sexual transmission.”
Last week, state health officials said they had found more Zika-affected mosquitoes in traps set in Miami Beach, and they found more infections, also. “(The Department of Health) has identified five people, two males and three females, in the expanded area who all experienced symptoms within one month of each other,” the department said in a statement.
It widened the Miami Beach outbreak zone.
Florida has now confirmed 85 home-grown cases of Zika across the state, including 35 in the Miami Beach outbreak. Another 10 people caught Zika in Florida before returning home elsewhere.
Some local residents have protested against the use of pesticides, but the county, which has jurisdiction over mosquito control, says it plans to continue spraying.
Zika has spread explosively across Latin America and the Caribbean, and the CDC says thousands ofpeople have carried the virus to the United States.
It can be spread sexually but it’s mostly spread by mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main carrier of Zika, is a year-round resident of south Florida and is common in many other southern states.
“While today’s news is great, the fight is not over. We have more than 93 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida and on Friday, we extended the Miami Beach Zika zone to an area of about 4.5 miles,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said.
“Despite this, the federal government still cannot agree on spending money to stomp out this serious disease. Florida may have been the first location to have locally transmitted Zika, but we will not be the last.”
The CDC has some advice for travelers to Florida and residents of Miami:
- Pregnant women and their partners living in or traveling to the area should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- Pregnant women and their sexual partners may also consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.
- Women and men who lived in or traveled to the area should be aware this location was considered an area of active Zika virus transmission from June 15 to September 18, 2016.
- Pregnant women who have been in the area should consider getting tested for Zika; and people who have a pregnant sex partner should use condoms or they should not have sex during the pregnancy.
- Women and men who do not have signs or symptoms of Zika and who traveled to the area from June 15 to September 18 should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant.
- Men who had symptoms of Zika or were diagnosed with Zika and who traveled to the area from June 15 to September 18 should wait at least 6 months before trying to get their partner pregnant.