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Florida finds second active Zika hot zone

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The Florida Department of Health has classified a 1.5-square-mile area in Miami Beach, a popular tourist destination, as an active Zika virus transmission zone, officials said today.

That’s the second Zika hot zone the department has identified in the Miami area, and officials released case report information hinting that there might be a third hot zone.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel warning recommending that pregnant women avoid Miami Beach. 

Zika can spread through sexual intercourse and blood transfusions, but it most commonly spreads through mosquito bites, and from pregnant women to their fetuses.

Related: SWAT team: Miami mosquito man faces Zika with tiny crew

In fetuses, Zika can cause joint problems, vision and hearing problems, and severe brain damage. In adults and children, the virus can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that may cause paralysis. Researchers warned Thursday, based on a study involving mice, that Zika may also lead to learning and memory problems in adults.

Related: Mosquitoes may be spreading Zika in 9 South Florida areas

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health classified a 1-square-mile area around Wynwood, a Miami neighborhood previously best known for its art galleries, as an active Zika transmission zone.

Before today, Florida officials had reported finding 23 locally acquired Zika cases in the Wynwood neighborhood, and 12 in other locations.

Officials now say that five of the locally acquired infections from outside Wynwood may be the result of bites from mosquitoes in Miami Beach. Three of the people infected were tourists. One came from Texas, one from New York and one from Taiwan.

Today, when Florida officials released the latest daily Zika testing results, they said they had recorded “one new non-travel-related case today, which is located outside of the Wynwood and Miami-Beach areas in Miami-Dade County.”

Finding a new, local Zika case outside Wynwood and Miami Beach could mean that there’s a third active Zika transmission zone.

But “one case does not mean active transmission is taking place,” officials said.

Officials said the Florida Department of Health will decide that active transmission is occurring in an area if it finds that the virus is moving from one patient to other people.

“If the department finds evidence that active transmission is occurring in an additional area, we will notify the media and the public,” officials said.

In related news, officials in the city of Miami Beach were preparing to hold a press conference about the Zika outbreak at 5 p.m. today.


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