Ever since the Zika outbreak hit Miami, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of "hot zones" where the virus has definitively been spread locally. Shaded alarmingly red on maps, the first zone in Wynwood was followed by another in South Beach and, last week, an area in Little River. (Wynwood's zone has since been removed.)
But is Zika also spreading locally outside of those identified areas? In a new warning, the CDC says it's worried enough about the possibility that pregnant women who've been to any part of Miami-Dade County should get tested for the disease.
“Zika continues to pose a threat to pregnant women living in or traveling to Miami-Dade County,” said Lyle Petersen, MD, MPH, and director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. “Our guidance today strengthens our travel advice and testing recommendations for pregnant women to further prevent the spread of the infection among those most vulnerable.”
It's worth a reminder what those hot zones in Miami Beach and Little River represent: They're areas where scientists have proven that local mosquitoes have transmitted more than one case of Zika.
Yesterday, Florida's Department of Health confirmed two new locally transmitted cases, both linked to the Miami Beach hot zone. That brings the number of local cases statewide to 165, along with 745 travel-related cases; in all, at least 110 pregnant women have been infected.
Two "hot zones" remain in effect, but the CDC suggests the virus could be spreading anywhere in Miami-Dade.
But isolating the hot zones where transmission is definitely happening doesn't mean the virus isn't also spreading elsewhere in Miami-Dade.
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"Although the specific level of risk in yellow areas is unknown, pregnant women are still considered to be at risk," the CDC warns. In case the map isn't clear enough, all of Miami-Dade County is such a "yellow area."
The risk is real enough for the CDC to discourage all nonessential travel to the county for pregnant women — and now to encourage any pregnant woman who has visited since August 1 to be tested.
Zika has been linked to birth defects and can also be sexually transmitted.