Florida health officials are investigating two new suspected non-travel-related Zika cases — all in Miami.
The latest figures bring to 79 the number of cases where local mosquitoes are believed to have caused the infections, as opposed to people who have acquired the virus by traveling outside the U.S. to places where Zika is more common.
“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,” state officials said in a statement, noting the Wynwood area of Miami is the epicenter of the nation’s Zika epidemic.
“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.
In addition to the new “homegrown cases,” 660 travel-related Zika infections have been recorded in Florida and 86 involving pregnant women, according to the new report.
In addition, the Florida Health Department said it has conducted testing for the Zika virus for more than 7,192 people statewide.
All county health departments are now offering free Zika risk assessment and testing to any pregnant woman who would like to be tested.
The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and other symptoms.
But it's especially dangerous for women who are pregnant because it boosts the risk of babies born with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.
It is also believed to be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and possibly neurological disorders in some people.
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.
Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. 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.
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:
1. Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
2. Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
3. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
4. Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves.
5. Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
6. At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.
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