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State health department says Pinellas has two new travel-related Zika cases

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

State health officials say there are eight new travel-related cases of Zika in Florida as of Tuesday.

Of those, two are in Pinellas, four in Broward, one in St. Lucie and one involving a pregnant woman, according to the Florida Department of Health’s daily zika update.

There is also one new non-travel related case linked to Miami-Dade County. The department is to investigating where exposure occurred.

Those cases bring the total number of Florida Zika cases to 1,002. The majority of those – 728 – are travel related. Another 147 are non-travel-related and 104 are infections involving pregnant women. There are 19 cases involving non-Florida residents. Officials don’t know the origin of the remaining four.

DOH continues door-to-door outreach and targeted testing in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and mosquito abatement and reduction activities are also taking place around the locations that are being investigated. DOH believes ongoing transmission is only taking place a certain area in Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County.

One case does not mean ongoing active transmission is taking place. DOH conducts a thorough investigation by sampling close contacts and community members around each case to determine if additional people are infected. If DOH finds evidence that active transmission is occurring in an area, the media and the public will be notified.

The department is currently conducting 16 active investigations. The department has closed 26 investigations. Information regarding the investigations can be found here. If investigations reveal additional areas of active transmission, the department will announce a defined area of concern.

The department has conducted Zika virus testing for more than 8,928 people statewide. Florida currently has the capacity to test 5,957 people for active Zika virus and 7,130 for Zika antibodies. At Gov. Rick Scott’s direction, all county health departments offer free Zika risk assessment and testing to pregnant women.

Florida’s small case cluster is not considered widespread transmission, however, pregnant women are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the impacted area in Miami-Dade County. If you are pregnant and must travel or if you live or work in the impacted area, protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, long clothing and limiting your time outdoors.

According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, providers should consider testing all pregnant women with a history of travel to a Zika-affected area for the virus. It is also recommended that all pregnant women who reside in or travel frequently to the area where active transmission is likely occurring be tested for Zika in the first and second trimester. Pregnant women in the identified area can contact their medical provider or their local county health department to be tested and receive a Zika prevention kit.

Pregnant women can contact their local county health department for Zika risk assessment and testing hours and information. A Zika risk assessment will be conducted by county health department staff and blood and/or urine samples may be collected and sent to labs for testing. It may take one to two weeks to receive results.

On Feb. 12, Scott directed the state surgeon general to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The hotline, managed by the Department of Health, has assisted 6,779 callers since it launched. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

The department urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.

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