A public health agency has found a locally spread case of the Zika virus in Pinellas County, Florida — in the area around Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Officials at the Florida Department of Health are not giving any more details about the location of the individual in Pinellas County who has Zika, but Tampa is about 300 miles away from Dade County, Florida.
Zika can spread via mosquito bites, sex, and blood transfusions. It can also spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through the placenta.
The Florida health department is still testing people around the Pinellas County individual with Zika to see if the virus is spreading in that area.
The department has already confirmed that Zika appears to be spreading in two communities in Dade County: Miami Beach and Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami. If authorities find that mosquitoes are spreading Zika in Pinellas County, that could dramatically increase the odds that Zika will spread to enough mainland U.S. communities to have an effect on insurers’ health, disability and long-term care insurance morbidity risk.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that Zika may cause neurological problems and other problems in about 1 percent to 13 percent of the babies who were exposed to Zika in the womb. The CDC has estimated that the lifetime cost of caring for a baby born with serious Zika-related neurological problems could range from $1 million to $4 million.
In adults and children, Zika can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that may lead to permanent partial or complete paralysis. Researchers have said that Zika-related Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases that occurred during a recent outbreak in French Polynesia led to lingering paralysis in about half of the 42 people affected, or about one case of lingering partial or complete paralysis per 14,000 residents.