The number of Florida homegrown Zika cases is rising, including both within the Miami Beach “hot zone,” as well as elsewhere, state officials there say.
On Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 10 new cases of homegrown Zika, along with six new travel-related cases of the potentially deadly virus.
Of the 10, one case of homegrown Zika occurred in the Miami Beach hot zone, five in Miami-Dade County, and one in Palm Beach County. In addition, three occurred in the Wynwood section of Miami.
Wynwood had been pinpointed a hot zone for homegrown Zika, but that designation was lifted recently. In their report, the officials pointed out that the Wynwood infections actually occurred in July, but are only being reported now. Confirmation of Zika can take several weeks, officials have said.
The travel-related cases involved two in Broward, two in Miami-Dade, and one each in Collier and Polk counties.
This brings the state’s total Zika cases to 894. The tally includes 689 travel-related, 105 homegrown infections, and 10 out-of-state residents that have been infected. Also included are 90 cases involving pregnant women, which are being monitored.
Zika poses a particular threat to pregnant women because the infection causes microcephaly, a serious birth defect that causes babies to be born with too-small heads and brain damage, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
Also, according to the CDC, Miami Beach remains the only “hot zone” in the country where Zika is currently being transmitted. Although isolated Zika homegrown cases have occurred elsewhere, the area is not considered a hot zone unless at least two cases have occurred there, and other criteria is met.
There are thousands of travel-related cases of Zika in the U.S., but concern centers on homegrown Zika, because it is the local transmission of the disease that could cause the virus to spread throughout the country.
Zika may cause no symptoms or make people sick for a week with the following flu-like signs:
- 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.
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