iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — A new cluster of five Zika infections around Miami beach has Florida health officials concerned the virus is being locally transmitted in a second area, according to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
“We believe we have a new area where local transmission is occurring in Miami Beach,” the governor said.
Scott announced on Friday that state officials have identified the infections, which they believe have been transmitted by local mosquitoes, in a new area of Miami beach. The five people infected — three men and two women — include two Florida residents and three visitors from Texas, New York and Taiwan, respectively. In total, 36 people have been infected with Zika virus in the first local outbreak in the continental U.S.
Scott said the new area is under 1.5 miles in size and that mosquito control officials were spraying in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegyti mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.
Previously, health officials believed local Zika virus transmission was limited to the Wynwood neighborhood in north Miami. That area, which is less than a square mile, has been subject to intense mosquito control programs and public health efforts to reduce infections.
Scott and Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip explained to reporters Friday why they had not announced the second transmission site on Thursday, following multiple media reports of a second outbreak location.
“I want to assure everyone that if we I.D. additional areas of local transmission we will tell the local public immediately,” Philip told reporters Friday. Philip said there were a number of investigations in progress, but that there have been no other suspected areas of local transmission, aside from the two identified areas.
She said the investigation into the new cases concluded Friday morning.
Scott called for assistance from the federal government, including guidance for working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and asked the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for additional lab support and 5,000 more tests for the Zika virus.
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