US officials have warned pregnant women against visiting Miami Beach after identifying the tourist hotspot as a Zika transmission zone. Thirty-six cases of the virus have been reported in the US state of Florida.
Five people have contracted the Zika virus in South Beach, Miami, the Florida Health Department said Friday, bring the total number of known cases in the state to 36.
The new cases prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel warning to pregnant women to avoid Miami Beach and suggested they should also consider postponing non-essential travel to Miami-Dade County, where some 2.5 million people live.
More Zika cases expected
"We're in the midst of mosquito season and expect more Zika infections in the days and months to come," said CDC director Tom Frieden. "It is difficult to predict how long active transmission will continue."
The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause birth-defects, including an unusually small brain and head, if a woman is infected while pregnant. Most of the time the virus only causes mild, flu-like symptoms, making it difficult to confirm local transmission.
"For this reason, it is possible that other neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County have active Zika transmission that is not yet apparent," the CDC said in a statement.
Officials said the transmission zone was confined to an area of just under 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers) in South Beach. They had previously also identified a one square mile transmission zone in Wynwood arts district.
Florida is the only state where locally transmitted cases of Zika have been confirmed.
cw/sms (AFP, AP)