Fighting Zika Mosquitoes Proves Tough in Fla.

     (CN) — Eradicating mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus has proven more challenging in Miami than expected, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
     Federal and state health officials have launched a campaign to identify people who have contracted Zika, in addition to trying to eliminate the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the primary vector of Zika — after 14 cases of local transmission were reported around Miami.
     CDC Director Tom Frieden said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday that officials have issued a travel warning advising pregnant women to avoid Wynwood, the neighborhood north of downtown Miami where the reported infections are believed to have occurred.
     This is the first health-based travel advisory for an American city since polio was a threat in the 1940s, according to William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
     “Zika is spreading in that community. Women who work or live there should do everything possible to avoid getting bit by a mosquito,” Frieden told ABC.
     Frieden said that the mosquitoes may be resistant to the insecticide being used, though determining if that is the case will take weeks. Breeding sites may not have been destroyed either, Frieden added.
     The travel warning spans an area of about one square mile in Wynwood, east of the Interstate 95 and south of I-195. While the area seems small, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes only travel about 200 yards in their lifetime.
     Humans are the more effective vessels for transporting the virus to other areas, which makes containing the virus a bit more difficult considering its various attractions for visitors.
     Many health officials and researchers have stated publicly that widespread local transmission in the United States is unlikely. However, the challenges Florida and the CDC have reported also highlight the threat of the Zika epidemic, which has swept through South America and the Caribbean since 2015.
     Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant must be particularly careful due to Zika’s connection to a range of neurological birth defects including microcephaly — a disorder that leads to reduced head sizes and potential brain damage for infants.
     Peter Hotez, a tropical medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said the CDC should expand the travel advisory to all of Miami-Dade County.
     “If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant, avoid travel to Miami and possibly elsewhere in South Florida,” Hotez told the Associated Press. “I’m guessing most women who are pregnant are doing that. I don’t think they’re sitting around waiting for the CDC to split hairs and fine-tune it to a specific area.”
     The CDC said it has earmarked $16 million to 40 states, to pay for enhanced monitoring and prevention of the Zika virus.

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