Florida health officials say they have evidence of "likely" local Zika virus transmission in Miami Beach

August 19, 2016 12:40 PM

The Zika virus is continuing to spread in Florida.

Five people have been infected by Zika locally in Miami Beach, including three tourists, Governor Rick Scott confirmed Friday.

“We believe we have a new area where local transmission is occurring in Miami Beach,” Scott said at a news conference. “Active transmission is happening between 8th and 28th streets, an area just under 1.5 (square) miles.”

The news comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new complication to the virus: Increasing cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare paralyzing condition they think will be seen in about every 5,000-10,000 infections like Zika. Guillain-Barre is rare, but can be a complication to many different kinds of viral infections. Usually, it manifests as a temporary paralysis that can worsen if an individual’s breathing muscles are affected. Most patients recover with proper care.

Florida’s Department of Health initially refused to confirm reports that Zika had migrated to Miami Beach, though cases were verified in the city’s Wynwood neighborhood, the first site of local transmission in the continental United States.

Scott said three of those infected were tourists – one from, New York, another from Texas and a third from Taiwan.

Officials are leery of warning against travel to tourist-heavy Miami Beach as the summer season winds down – last year, 15.5 million people spent at least one night in Greater Miami, according to the area’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, with nearly 50 percent of that figure staying in Miami Beach.

The CDC has listed 529 pregnancies affected by Zika in the continental U.S. and another 691 in U.S. territories, mostly Puerto Rico. In the U.S., 16 babies with birth defects caused by the virus have been reported, while five have died, miscarried or been aborted because of Zika damage. Guillain-Barre Syndrome adds to the pile of complications linked to Zika, including the most commonly mentioned: Microcephaly in children of women infected by the virus.

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