There are now 14 people with the Zika virus in south Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott is calling on the CDC for an emergency response team.
Florida confirmed Monday 10 more homegrown cases of Zika in people infected by local mosquitoes, leading federal health officials to advise women who are pregnant to avoid the area just north of downtown Miami where Zika is spreading.
Women who have visited the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami since June 15 should avoid getting pregnant for at least eight weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika, which can cause devastating birth defects, appears to have begun spreading among mosquitoes in this area around June 15.
CDC officials believe this is the first time that the federal health agency has warned people to avoid a community in the continental U.S., said agency spokesman Tom Skinner.
At Florida’s request, the CDC is sending an emergency response team to the state to help control the outbreak. Two CDC staff are already working in Florida, with six more planning to join them.
The new Zika cases in Miami bring the number of Zika infections spread by local mosquitoes — as opposed to foreign travel — to 14.
Controlling the cluster of Zika cases is proving difficult, CDC director Tom Frieden said, noting that more diagnoses related to the neighborhood are possible.
“We don’t have ideal ways to control the mosquitoes that control Zika,” Frieden said. “In Miami, aggressive mosquito control measures don’t seem to be working as well as we would have liked.”
All pregnant women should take steps to prevent mosquito bites, Frieden said. The mosquito species that spreads Zika, the Aedes aegypti, lives in 30 states, in addition to territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.