FLORIDA, United States, Wednesday August 3, 2016 – In an unusual about-turn, the United States has slapped a Zika warning on itself after another 10 cases of the virus were identified in the Wynwood area just north of central Miami.
The travel notice, which was issued by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), followed a similar warning from England’s public health agency, which on Saturday advised pregnant women to postpone non-essential travel to Florida.
At the time of the British advisory, only four cases of Zika that were believed to have been contracted from mosquitoes within Florida had been confirmed there.
The locally transmitted cases were thought to be the first of their kind in the US, with the majority of Zika cases previously found among people returning from infected areas in South America and the Caribbean.
The 14 latest home-grown Florida cases are thought to have been caused when the victims were bitten by mosquitoes that had been infected by biting people who had brought back the virus as an unwanted souvenir of their travels.
Of the 14 individuals identified, 12 are men and two are women.
Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, said the new US warning advises women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, to avoid the square mile area of the local outbreak.
The CDC said that pregnant women who had been in Wynwood or had travelled there since June 15 and were in the first or second trimesters (weeks one to 27) should get tested.
The national health agency also recommended women to delay pregnancy for eight weeks after leaving the area.
The Zika virus is linked to severe birth defects including small-head syndrome, or microcephaly, in new-borns.
While calling for an emergency response team to be set up to investigate and combat the virus’s spread, the Florida governor said: “Florida has a proven track record of success when it comes to managing similar mosquito-borne viruses.
“While I encourage all residents and visitors to continue to use precaution by draining standing water and wearing bug spray, Florida remains safe and open for business.”
The CDC nevertheless said that mosquito control measures were not working as well as had been hoped and additional resources were being sent to the area.