Are Zika-Carrying Mosquitos Now in the U.S.? Florida Department of Health Investigating Two Possible Cases

There are two potential non-travel related Zika virus cases being investigated in Florida

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The Florida Department of Health is investigating two non-travel related Zika virus cases in Broward County and Miami-Dade County, officials said on Thursday.

The department is conducting an “epidemiological investigation” in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into what they say could be locally spread Zika infections by testing mosquitos in the immediate area.

“The department continues to work closely with mosquito control to ensure trapping, reduction and prevention activities are conducted in the area of investigation,” they said in a press release.

Experts “have not ruled out travel or sexual transmission” completely, PEOPLE confirmed with Florida Department of Health director Mara Gambineri.

The department is also handing out “Zika prevention kits and repellant” that are being distributed in “the area under investigation,” officials said in the press release. The CDC recommends kits that include insect repellents, water tablets for killing mosquito larva and condoms to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.

“Residents and visitors are urged to participate in requests for blood and urine samples by the department in the areas of investigation. These results will help the department determine the number of people affected,” the statement continued.

To date, 200 people have undergone testing and interviews as a part of the state’s investigation. The Florida Department of Health has been monitoring pregnant women with Zika symptoms since January, and they say the “total number of pregnant women who have been monitored is 47, with 15 having met” CDC Zika case definitions.

The department would like to remind Florida residents and visitors that “the best way to protect themselves is to prevent mosquito bites through practicing good drain and cover methods.”

In order to avoid being bitten this summer, here is a list of the best bug sprays for warding off the zika-spreading Aedes mosquitos, according to Consumer Reports:

  • Sawyer Picaridin
  • Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula
  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

Each of the top picks contains a different key ingredient: picaridin, DEET and a derivative of eucalyptus. DEET, an active ingredient in many insect repellants, has been used since the 1940s. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DEET is safe for pregnant women and young children.

Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, on the other hand, should not be used on children under three years old. Insect repellant of any kind should not be used on babies under 2 months of age; instead small babies should be protected by a mosquito net placed around their infant seat or carrier.

And here’s the best way to use mosquito repellants, per the CDC:

  • Spray or rub repellant only onto skin not covered by clothes (it’s not necessary to apply repellant under your clothing)
  • Use just enough insect repellant to cover your skin; heavy application does not increase effectiveness
  • Never use insect repellants on cuts, wounds or irritated skin
  • Do not spray insect repellant directly onto your face – spray it into your hands and then carefully apply to your face
  • Apply insect repellant after applying sunscreen
  • After returning indoors, wash insect repellant off of your skin with soap and water or take a bath.

Protecting your home from mosquito populations is also important. Remember to get rid of standing water. Birdbaths, flowerpots and clogged gutters all make for excellent mosquito breeding grounds.

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