Zika: Bay Area health officials say residents should consider delaying travel to Miami

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Oakland (KTVU) Bay Area health officials say California residents should consider delaying travel to Florida's Miami-Dade County following the CDC warning Friday about new Zika cases from infected mosquitos in the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach, Florida.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new travel warning Friday for a 1.5 mile area of Miami Beach, Florida, a popular tourist destination known for beaches and nightclubs.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said five people contracted the Zika virus in the Miami Beach area.

"Two of these individuals are Florida residents of Miami-Dade county. One person is a resident of New York, one person is a resident of Texas and one person is a resident of Taiwan," Governor Scott said.

The South Beach area is the nation's second active Zika transmission zone. The first was nearby in Miami's trendy Wynwood district. The new cases now bring Florida's total domestic Zika infections to 36.

The governor has ordered aggressive action in the tourist-dependent area, with increased mosquito spraying on the ground, because aerial sprays are impractical due to wind and high rise buildings.

Mosquito control teams are tossing pellets into standing water to kill mosquito eggs.

The biggest danger is to women who are pregnant or couples planning to conceive. Zika infection has resulted in mothers giving birth to babies with unusually small heads and brain-related birth defects.

Dr. Erica Pan, the Director of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention with the Alameda County Public Health Department says the Zika virus can survive in the human body for weeks in women and up to six months in men.

Travelers can pick up the Zika virus without ever showing symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, headaches, and red eyes.

"The infection of Zika virus is pretty mild and only about one in five people actually have symptoms who get the infection," Dr. Pan said.

Also, the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted, so infected travelers can infect their partners without knowing.

The CDC map shows that the two Aedes mosquito strains known to carry the virus have the potential to spread to the southern and western United States. The Bay Area is at the northern edge of the zone, but health officials say there is no evidence so far of those mosquito strains having any established presence.

"We don't have the invasive aedes species of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus from person to person," Dr. Pan emphasized.

Dr. Pan and other health officials say there is concern about federal funding to support Zika research and education efforts.

Congress left for summer break in July without resolving a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over President Obama's $1.9 billion emergency funding request.

Centers For Disease Control website on Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html