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Zika in Florida: 2nd possible non-travel case investigated

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BROWARD COUNTY, Flor. — Health officials are investigating a possible non-travel related case of Zika virus in Broward County, Florida, the Florida Department of Health said Thursday.

This individual has not traveled to an area where the virus is circulating. However, sexual transmission of the virus from a person who has traveled has not been ruled out, Florida Department of Health Communications Director Mara Gambineri said.

“Residents and visitors are urged to participate in requests for blood and urine samples by the department in the areas of investigation. These results will help the department determine the number of people affected,” the department of health said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting state and local health officials with the investigation. A senior epidemiologist from the CDC will arrive in Florida on Friday.

The investigation announced Thursday is in addition to the ongoing investigation announced earlier this week of a suspected non-travel related case of Zika in Miami-Dade County. “We continue to investigate and have not ruled out travel or sexual transmission at this time.” Gamnineri said Thursday, adding that more specifics on that investigation are expected on Friday.

To date, there are 334 cases of Zika virus in the state of Florida, including 46 pregnant women. Seven of those cases were newly reported Thursday in the state’s daily Zika update.

As of July 20, the CDC reported 1,404 cases of the virus in the continental United States and Hawaii. None of those cases is a result of local mosquito transmission. Fifteen of those individuals were infected by sexual transmission and there is one case of a laboratory-acquired infection. (The CDC updates its numbers weekly on Thursday, so those numbers do not count Thursday’s newly reported cases in Florida or other states).

Federal, state and local health officials nationwide have been preparing for locally acquired cases of the virus for months. “Officials from Florida participated in all these activities, and their experience in responding to mosquito-borne diseases similar to Zika, including dengue and chikungunya, has been an important source of knowledge in this effort,” the CDC said.

U.S. health officials have warned to expect local transmission of the virus from mosquitoes but don’t expect widespread transmission, as has been seen in Puerto Rico and throughout the Americas.