Update 4:26 p.m.: The CDC is now telling pregnant women to avoid traveling to Wynwood.
According to Gov. Rick Scott, ten more people have caught Zika from Florida mosquitoes. That brings the total transmitted cases in Florida to 14 and also delivers something of a panic to the streets of Miami. According to a statement from Scott's office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning pregnant women to avoid traveling to the "affected area just north of downtown," otherwise known as Wynwood/midtown/Edgewater, until the virus is under control.
The Department of Health "believes local transmissions are still only occurring in the same square mile area of Miami," Scott said in a statement. He added that he has asked the CDC to activate its "emergency response team to help the health department test mosquitoes and figure out how to combat the virus.
“While we continue to learn more about this virus each day, we know that it is most harmful to pregnant women and their babies," Scott said. "For women who live or work in the impacted area and are either pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, I urge you to contact your Ob/Gyn for guidance and to receive a Zika prevention kit."
He then stressed the state has a "proven track record of success" when it comes to combating mosquito-borne illnesses. Though he encouraged residents to drain any and all standing water around their homes, he also stressed the state is still safe for tourists.
The virus is largely benign to those who are not planning to have children, but the transmissions are still quite frightening to pregnant women and couples, many of whom are now debating whether to skip town.
Likewise, it appears some other countries are already warning their citizens to exercise extreme caution if they plan to head to Florida.
On Friday, the United Kingdom's Department of Health added Florida to its list of Zika-affected areas, stating there is a "moderate risk" of Zika transmission across the state. Thus, the UK warns couples who are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, to avoid unprotected sex immediately after a trip to Florida. If a woman contracts Zika, the agency says, she should avoid getting pregnant for at least eight weeks after being cured. It adds:
If a female partner is at risk of getting pregnant, or is planning pregnancy, effective contraception is advised to prevent pregnancy, and condom use is advised for a male traveller during vaginal, anal, and oral sex to reduce the risk of transmission.
These precautions should be taken during travel and:
- for 8 weeks after his return from an active Zika transmission area if he has not had any symptoms compatible with Zika virus infection
- for 6 months following the start of symptoms if a clinical illness compatible with Zika virus infection or laboratory confirmed Zika virus infection was reported
This is a precaution and may be revised as more information becomes available. Following this, attempts to conceive can resume.
If you're pregnant, now would be a good time to see a doctor and get a blood test.
And, if you're confused about what "standing water" actually is, here's a handy GIF from the Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste:
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