Today (July 29), the Florida Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first four locally-transmitted cases of the Zika virus in the continental US. The DOH also stated that the virus was probably spread by mosquitos.
“We learned today that four people in our state likely have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite,” Governor Rick Scott said in a press conference. “The Florida DOH believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami.”
Notably, no mosquitos in Florida have yet been found to carry the Zika virus, which is most dangerous for its ability to cause sometimes fatal birth defects in the unborn children of women who are pregnant. But for months US health officials have suspected local transmission would be possible. Zika has been mostly spread through mosquitos, particularly Aedes aegypti, which live in the Gulf of Mexico and some parts of the east coast of the US. Other cases of Zika in the US have been the result of travel to a country where Zika is endemic, through sexual transmission, and possibly through other bodily fluids like urine or saliva in cases where patients have extremely high viral loads.
Governor Scott directed the DOH to begin stringent mosquito control measures, and advised Florida residents to vigilantly wear insect repellant and eliminate standing water, where mosquitos typically breed.