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CDC issues new Zika advisory following local cases in Fla.; NIH official: Zika could 'hang around' for one to two years

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday released new guidelines that advise pregnant women to avoid a part of Miami Beach where officials have confirmed local transmission of Zika virus, the New York Times reports (Alvarez/Belluck, New York Times, 8/19).


The Zika virus is not easily diagnosed, and it does not have a cure or vaccine. It is linked to microcephaly, an anomaly in which a fetus develops an abnormally small head and brain. The condition is fatal for some infants, while others experience permanent disabilities. The virus is most commonly transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito, but it can also be spread through sexual activity (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/18).

Earlier this summer, Florida officials identified local Zika virus transmission in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. In response, CDC issued an advisory directing pregnant women to avoid the roughly 1-square-mile area where local transmission was suspected (New York Times, 8/19).

According to CDC, there have been 2,260 reported cases of Zika virus in the continental United States and Hawaii. Of those cases, 529 are among pregnant women (CDC release, 8/19).

New local cases confirmed

On Friday, Florida officials confirmed that five more people had been infected with Zika virus between Eighth and 28th Streets in Miami Beach. The area encompasses the heart of South Beach (New York Times, 8/19). Two of the affected individuals reside in Miami-Dade County. The other three were visiting from New York, Texas and Taiwan (Campo-Flores/McKay, Wall Street Journal, 8/19).

In total, Florida officials have confirmed 488 travel-related cases of Zika and 36 cases of local Zika transmission in the state, including 68 cases among pregnant women (Dennis, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 8/19). Twenty-five of the 36 local cases have been tied to a region around two businesses in Wynwood.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said several other instances of suspected local Zika transmission have been reported in Miami-Dade County. He noted the cases are suspected to be isolated, but he added that "it is possible that other neighborhoods in [the county] have active Zika transmission that is not yet apparent" (New York Times, 8/19). According to the Wall Street Journal, officials are investigating another cluster of Zika cases in Brickell, Miami (Wall Street Journal, 8/19).

Further, noting that Zika virus is typically asymptomatic, Frieden said, "There are undoubtedly more infections that we are not aware of right now" ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 8/19). He noted that more cases are expected to be reported (New York Times, 8/19).

Latest advisory

In the updated advisory, CDC said pregnant women should avoid travel to the 1.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach where the five new cases of Zika originated. In addition, CDC said pregnant women and their partners should consider avoiding travel to Miami-Dade County.

Further, CDC told pregnant women and their partners who live in or must travel to the affected part of Miami Beach to take additional efforts to guard against mosquito bites ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 8/19).

Efforts, challenges to curbing local transmission

Frieden noted challenges to curbing Zika in Miami Beach. For instance, he said while aerial spraying for mosquitoes has been effective in Wynwood, the tactic cannot be used in Miami Beach because of high winds and tall buildings (New York Times, 8/19). In addition, he stated, "The amount of exposed skin [among beachgoers] also makes it harder to prevent infections there."

According to the Washington Post's "To Your Health," there is also a risk that the high number of tourists to the region -- including international tourists -- could carry the virus to other regions if they get infected.

According to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), Miami-Dade County already bolstered its mosquito control campaign in Miami Beach ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 8/19). Scott added that the state is seeking additional resources from CDC, including 5,000 more Zika testing kits and 10,000 more prevention kits (Eisenberg/Hussain, Los Angeles Times, 8/20).

NIH: Zika could linger for one-to-two years

In related news, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on Sunday told ABC's "This Week" that Zika virus could stay in the United States for a year or two, the AP/Washington Post reports.

Fauci stated, "With our experience with other similar viruses like dengue, this is something that could hang around for a year or two ... Hopefully, we get to a point to where we could suppress it so that we won’t have any risk of it."

Fauci also noted that he "would not be surprised if we see cases in Texas and Louisiana, particularly now where you have the situation with flooding in Louisiana." He added, "There are going to be a lot of problems getting rid of standing water."

According to Fauci, the virus' spread can best be curbed through mosquito control (AP/Washington Post, 8/21).