Florida’s tally of travel-related cases is climbing but the state reported no additional cases of homegrown Zika on Monday, health officials say.
The seven new cases of travel-related Zika involve three in Miami-Dade County, two in Broward and two cases involving pregnant women, the Florida Department of Health says.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Florida to 1,058, a tally that includes 169 people infected by local mosquitoes, as well as 752 travel-related infections.
Officials also added one more confirmed case of a pregnant woman, bringing that total number to 113.
Contracting Zika in pregnancy increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly, a type of brain damage, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If homegrown Zika continues tapering off, it will be very good news for Miami Beach, which is dealing with a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling pregnant women to steer clear of the tourist destination.
While there are thousands of travel-related cases of Zika in the U.S., health officials are most concerned about disease that is spread by homegrown mosquitoes.
Currently, homegrown Zika is believed to be spreading in only two areas of the U.S., both located in Miami-Dade County, the CDC says.
The zones include a 4.5-square-mile swath of Miami Beach and a one-mile area in Miami known as the Little River neighborhood.
The CDC also recommends that pregnant women exercise caution by avoiding unessential travel in all of Miami-Dade County.
Miami Beach officials are hoping that the city’s mosquito eradication efforts, coupled with cooler fall temperatures, results in the lifting of the advisory before the tourism season begins in earnest.
Pregnant women who must travel to the impacted area should protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, long clothing and limiting their time outdoors.
The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with the following flu-like symptoms:
- Joint pain.
- Red eyes.
There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, making prevention essential. Health experts recommend taking the following precautions:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors.
- Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
- Use repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
- Use air conditioning and window screens if possible.
- Call your health care provider if you are at risk of infection.
Last month, Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. They tested products containing deet, plantlike ingredients lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. The most effective products:
- Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin.
- Natrapel 8 Hour, with 20 percent picaridin.
- Off! Deepwoods VIII, w/25 percent deet.
- Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.
The magazine also recommended skipping products made with natural plant oils, such as California Baby Natural Bug Blend (a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients) and EcoSmart Organic, (which includes geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil).
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use deet, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA.
Other tips for using insect repellents safely and effectively:
- Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
- Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
- When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
- Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves
- Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
- At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.
The CDC advises people returning from travel to areas where Zika is present should continue to wear mosquito repellant for three weeks and refer to the agency’s published guidelines regarding sexual transmission of the virus.
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