Published: Mon, December 12, 2016
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Florida Gov. Scott lifts Zika infection zone in Miami Beach

Officials said today that the South Miami Beach area has now met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for when transmission ends: 45 days without a new case inside the designated zone. A far larger number of cases are considered "travel related", meaning people were infected elsewhere and brought the virus into the state.

Miami Beach officials, hoteliers and restaurateurs breathed a sigh of relief on Friday after Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially ended the last local Zika transmission zone in Miami-Dade County. "Pregnant women who live or have been to this area should continue to be evaluated for Zika exposure during their prenatal visits to prevent the devastating effects Zika can cause in their infants". Scott said the state had only received $7 million out of $25 million allocated to fight Zika transmission, and he said hopefully by next summer federal authorities would have a vaccine and offer a more vigorous response if local mosquito-borne transmissions resume. There have been 249 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

But, Texas officials, who recently reported a suspected case of local infection, said Friday that they have identified four more cases of suspected locally transmitted Zika virus in Cameron County, near the border with Mexico. We have learned a lot this year about battling Zika and the importance of using aggressive mosquito control measures and we can not let the lifting of this final zone or the upcoming winter allow us to become complacent.

It is still possible mosquitoes could be carrying the virus, so health officials urge residents and visitors to continue using repellent and get rid of standing water.

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The state will continue to provide free screenings for pregnant women, who are encouraged to contact their primary doctor, or a county health department.

Still, tourism officials at Scott's news conference were jubilant.

Florida is the only other state in the US with locally spread Zika.

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