Mosquitoes are actively transmitting the Zika virus in Miami Beach, sources aware of conversations that took place Thursday between Florida state health representatives and local officials have reportedly told the Miami Herald. Officials were expected to confirm the new zone of transmission that afternoon, and the news could threaten the tourism hotspot of Miami-Dade County.
Officials had been trying to halt the virus from spreading beyond a 1-square-mile section of Wynwood, an arts hub in the county just north of downtown Miami, since identifying local transmission there on July 29. Wynwood marked the first zone of ongoing Zika transmission in the continental United States.
“Our strategy has been and will continue to be focusing on the elimination of potential breeding sites and educating our residents and businesses on what they need to do,” Miami City Manager Jimmy Morales said in a written statement to the Herald. “We are also working with the county and they are also inspecting and as needed mitigating through techniques like clean ups, larvicides and fogging.”
Since Zika started spreading in Wynwood, seven new local cases of Zika have been reported outside of that zone, the Herald reported. On Wednesday, the health department reported an additional three new local Zika infections in Miami-Dade, including one in the initial 1-square-mile zone and two others outside of it.
The Herald reported that so far this year in Florida, 557 people, 63 of them pregnant, have contracted Zika. Thirty-three of those stem from local transmission in the state, and all except for seven have been traced to the Wynwood area.” The number of cases in Miami Beach has not been confirmed.
According to the Herald, Miami Beach is home to half of the county’s hotel rooms and the region depends on its $24 billion-a-year tourism industry.