Here's What We Know About Zika In Florida

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Update: Health officials in Florida have identified a second possible case of locally-acquired Zika infection, this one in Broward county, reports NBC News. The officials are currently testing local mosquitoes in the area to see if they carry the virus.

This article was originally published on July 21, 2016.

Although we've seen over 1,300 cases of Zika infection in the U.S. so far, all of them are among people who traveled to (or had sex with someone who traveled to) an area where Zika is rampant among the mosquitoes that spread the virus. But earlier this week, the Florida Department of Health announced that it's investigating what could be the first case of Zika transmitted through local mosquitoes in the continental U.S.

The patient is a woman living in Miami-Dade county. At this point, however, officials haven't confirmed that she acquired the virus locally. To do so, they're testing mosquitoes in the area for the virus. If confirmed, this would be the beginning of (what has always been) an inevitable spread of the virus among small local mosquito populations.

Florida officials are also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to figure out what's up. Yesterday the White House offered Florida Governor Rick Scott "federal support and technical assistance for Florida's ongoing case investigation and mosquito control efforts."

However, public health experts encourage us not to freak out. The virus poses the greatest threat to pregnant women. But the likelihood of a large-scale Zika outbreak in the country is still relatively low. And we can help keep it that way by avoiding travel to areas in which Zika is a problem, using insect repellant, and clearing out standing water that may be the perfect home for mosquito larvae.
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