Six more cases of homegrown Zika were confirmed Wednesday in Florida, mostly involving infections that occurred in the greater Miami area, state officials say.
In addition, the state’s hunt for Zika also turned up a resident infected with homegrown dengue fever. This was the second case of dengue in Florida this year, and the first in Miami, a news report says.
Dengue is a close cousin of Zika, a virus related to dengue was well as chikungunya. Since all three are spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, it is not surprising for one of the three types of virus to turn up where another is being spread, the report notes.
Although all three viruses cause people to get sick, Zika garners the greatest concern because of its link to with microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads and brain damage.
Most of the people infected with homegrown Zika had ties to Miami-Dade County, or to Miami Beach, which is a hot zone where locally transmitted Zika is occurring. Four cases involved Miami-Dade County residents; one case may have originated in Miami Beach and the state is investigating where the other cases occurred, state Florida Health Department officials say.
Another case involved a Broward County resident who had likely exposure in Miami Beach, although infection elsewhere could not be ruled out, and one involved a Palm Beach County resident.
In addition, two non-Florida residents who tested positive for the virus had exposure in Miami-Dade County, the state says.
Eight new travel-related cases with three in Polk, two in Orange, one in Monroe and one involving a pregnant woman were also reported. The state does not disclose where pregnant women were infected.
Miami Beach is the only “hot zone” in the U.S. where homegrown Zika is occurring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. There are cases of homegrown Zika occurring in other places in Florida, but one case does not constitute a “Zika zone.” This is a classification that the CDC makes, and the classification involves two or more cases occurring in close proximity as well as other criteria that must be met.
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 the mosquitoes that carry Zika. 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.
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