PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.- Governor Rick Scott has confirmed there is a locally transmitted case of the Zika virus in Pinellas County.
This is the first locally transmitted case outside of South Florida. The state does not believe that mosquitoes are actively spreading the virus in the county though.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Health Department has declined to say when or what part of Pinellas the virus was contracted in. However, it has been confirmed that it is a Tampa firefighter that lives in Pinellas Park that has contracted the virus.
During Scott’s announcement, he confirmed four new cases of Zika in the Miami-Dade area. The state believes mosquitoes are only actively spreading the virus in two parts of the Miami-Dade County.
According to Dr. Celeste Philip, the state surgeon general, the Department of Health is trying to trace the patients steps to confirm just where the virus came from. They will be talking to co-workers and testing family members.
With the confirmation that this case was transmitted locally, the state is saying that the patient did not get the virus from traveling through infected countries, such as Brazil. It will not be known whether Zika is being spread through the county or if this was a single case until the investigation is done.
Through studies, Zika has been linked to birth defects including microcephaly, which is where babies are born with small heads. The virus is spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito and can be transmitted sexually.
In Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, investigators have found that five cases were not spread through mosquitoes.
If confirmed to be transmitted through a mosquito, the state will likely identify a small portion of Pinellas County where the virus is believed to have been stirred. The virus carrying mosquitoes only travel about 150 meters in their lifetime, making small outbreaks easier to handle in Florida.
Free test kits are being handed out to pregnant women across the state. Governor Scott said about 4,000 women have been tested statewide and they have the ability to test about 6,500 more.