MIAMI, Fla.- Florida health officials announced Friday morning that four individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward countries have contracted the Zika virus through local mosquitoes.
These have become the first known cases in the United States of the virus being spread through mosquitoes.
The individuals that have remained unidentified have not traveled to a Zika infected area, have not had sexual contact with someone who had traveled to a place where the virus is present and had no other known exposure to the virus.
Health officials had predicted before that southern states may experience small local outbreaks. Florida is a state that had a particularly large risk of having an outbreak. The state is a year-round home to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are capable to transmitting the virus. Now officials warn to expect local transmission, but to not expect a widespread transmission. Places such as Puerto Rico and the Americas have experienced widespread transmission.
“We’re being very aggressive at testing people there we are testing the mosquitoes there and we spraying to make sure it’s contained,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a press conference.
The Florida Health Department has been handing out Zika prevention kits to pregnant women and are warning the community to eliminate standing water that mosquitoes might take up as breeding grounds.
According to Scott, the state is working with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to contain the outbreak. In a news conference Friday, Scott expressed his frustration that Congress had not passed a bill for funding the CDC for the combat of the Zika virus.
More than 1,650 people have been diagnosed with Zika in the U.S. Most of those cases were contracted while traveling to Zika infected areas. 15 of those cases were sexually transmitted.
According to the CDC website, there have been 307 travel-related cases of the Zika virus in Florida as of Friday.
More than 60 countries and territories are reporting local transmission of the virus now.
This story is still developing.