Florida announces 10 new cases of Zika likely transmitted locally | News | DW | 01.08.2016
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Florida announces 10 new cases of Zika likely transmitted locally

The governor of Florida has called for federal authorities to activate an emergency response team. At least 14 people have contracted the virus in Miami's arts district, likely from mosquito bites.

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday announced that Florida's Department of Health (DOH) identified an additional 10 people who have contracted the Zika virus in Miami, likely through mosquito bites.

Scott said he called on the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to activate an emergency response team to assist local authorities.

"Their team will consist of public health experts whose role is to augment our response efforts to confirmed local transmissions of the Zika virus," the governor said.

He also advised women living or working in the area and who are either pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant to visit a doctor for assistance.

"We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses," Scott added.

Two of the 14 people identified so far are women, while the rest are men.

The CDC is expected to issue a "notice to women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant to avoid unnecessary travel to the impacted area that is just north of downtown Miami," Scott added.

Governor Rick Scott announced on Friday what health authorities believe is the first local transmission of the virus in the US

Governor Rick Scott announced on Friday what health authorities believe is the first "local transmission" of the virus in the US

Outbreak unlikely

More than 200 people have been tested for the virus in the Miami-Dade and Broward County areas following reports of local transmission.

Although 1,600 people have reported the infection in the US, the Miami cases mark the first time the virus has spread through local mosquitoes.

US health officials do not expect a similar outbreak to Brazil's, where more than 1.5 million people have been infected and over 1,000 cases of microcephaly have been recorded.

Health authorities have linked the virus to an increase of microcephaly cases, a condition that results in abnormally small heads in newborns.

President Barack Obama on Friday announced the federal government was ready to provide assistance to the state in order to combat that spread of the virus.

Earlier this year, Obama called on Congress to approve $1.9 billion (1.7 billion euros) to tackle the virus and stop it from spreading domestically. However, the Republican-dominated Congress ended their summer session without approving the funds.

ls/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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