Florida health officials have identified 10 more people who likely contracted the Zika virus through a mosquito bite in South Florida, bringing the total to 12 cases in Miami-Dade and 2 in Broward County.
In response, Governor Rick Scott has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to activate an Emergency Response Team to help the Florida Department of Health (DOH) investigate.
Of the 14 locally-acquired cases, two are women and 12 are men.
All of the Miami-Dade cases ocurred within the same area north of downtown Miami, between NW 5th Avenue to the west, US 1 to the the east, NW/NE 38th Street to the north and NW/NE 20th Street to the south.
Zika symptoms include fever, rashes, joint pains and in some cases conjunctivitis. In pregnant women, it has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that can result in incomplete brain development. . There have also been reports of increases in cases of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome -a condition in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes paralysis.- in areas affected by Zika.
The virus usually spreads through mosquito bites, although it can also be transmitted through sexual relations.
According to the DOH, more than 200 individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been tested for the Zika virus since it started its investigation into possible local transmissions, on July 7th. In total, the Department has administed more than 2300 Zika tests statewide.
Florida authorities had confirmed last Friday four cases of Zika acquired through mosquito bites in Miami. Six of the 10 new cases announced today are asymptomatic and were recorded through door-to-door surveys conducted by the Florida Department of Health (DOH).
Scott explained that "DOH has been testing individuals in three locations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties for possible local transmissions through mosquito bites. Based on DOH’s investigations, two locations have been ruled out for possible local transmissions of the Zika virus. DOH believes local transmissions are still only occurring in the same square mile area of Miami."
According to the governor, the CDC Emergency Response Team requested would "augment our response efforts to confirmed local transmissions of the Zika virus" by "assisting DOH in their investigation, research and sample collection."
“Florida has a proven track record of success when it comes to managing similar mosquito-borne viruses. We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilizing constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses, said Scott.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration told Florida blood donation centers they cannot accept donations from Broward and Miami-Dade counties unless those donations have been screened for the Zika virus.
Amanda Rabines from WLRN and Julio Ochoa from Health News Florida contributed to this report.