MIAMI (AP) — Health officials in Florida are investigating what could be the first Zika infection from a mosquito bite in the continental United States, involving a resident of the Miami area.
Lab tests confirmed the Zika infection, according to statements from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida’s Department of Health.
Health officials said the person has no apparent links to recent travel outside the country. They did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions about ruling out other methods of transmission, such as sex.
The patient is an adult woman who lives in Miami-Dade County, according to a health official familiar with the case who wasn’t authorized to reveal details beyond the statements of the agencies involved and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
No other details about her case were released.
More than 1,300 Zika infections have been reported in the U.S., none involving bites from local mosquitoes; 14 of these were sexually transmitted, and one lab worker was stuck with a contaminated needle.
Miami-Dade County has the most confirmed infections in Florida so far – 88 confirmed cases – but all have involved someone who traveled to areas such as Latin America and the Caribbean where Zika outbreaks are widespread.
Health officials predicted the virus would reach U.S. mosquitoes this summer and have mobilized to keep Zika from spreading beyond isolated clusters of cases.
Mosquito control inspectors have been going door-to-door in the Miami area under investigation since health authorities alerted them late last week, spraying to kill mosquitoes and emptying containers of the water they need to breed. If the virus is there, they want to keep it from spreading through more mosquito bites.
“We’re constantly in the area. We’re doing hand-held spraying, and we’ll do more truck spraying Thursday,” said Gayle Love, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County Solid Waste Management.
Zika prevention kits and mosquito repellent — strongly recommended for women who are pregnant or planning to be — are being distributed in the area and can be picked up at the health department as well.
Crews in Utah, meanwhile, are trapping and testing mosquitoes and checking hotspots after a man who cared for his dying father was infected with Zika as well. That case has raised more questions about how the virus might spread.
There is no vaccine for Zika. The main defense is to avoid mosquito bites. Zika also can spread through unprotected sex with someone who is infected.
In most people, Zika causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst. But it can cause fetal death and severe brain defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy.
Written by: JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press. Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report.
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