Zika arrived in Palm Beach County.
Officials from the state health department announced Wednesday that a local resident was infected by the mosquito-borne disease while on vacation outside the United States.
Although the person affected has not been identified by authorities, it is believed that she or he is not pregnant. The state released a daily count of those infected with the virus every day, including pregnant women. This number had been at 4 for many weeks, and it did not change after Wednesday’s announcement.
Microcephaly has been linked with Zika, which is a condition that causes abnormally small heads and brain injury in newborns. Microcephaly can occur at rates ranging from 1 in 5,000 to 1 per 10,000 births, but has increased in northeast Brazil to 1 out 100 births ninety months after an outbreak.
The state declared that Palm Beach County is now under a public emergency.
Florida has reported 76 Zika cases through Wednesday. Three people are still showing symptoms. The state was home to more than 25% of the 273 Zika-related cases in the United States as of March 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) will release the latest numbers on Thursday. The majority of cases in the United States have been reported by travelers from outside the country. This means that the disease has not been transmitted to any native mosquitoes.
Broward (11) and Miami-Dade (32) are the most affected by Zika. They have combined more than half of the state’s cases. This is not surprising considering the large number of Zika-affected residents as well as visitors from other countries.
Palm Beach County was spared its first case up until Wednesday’s announcement.
Tim O’Connor, spokesperson for the county’s health department, directed any questions about the local case to the state officials. But the county’s mosquito control and health officials have been working together since January to prepare for Zika. In fact, they’ve been in contact with area doctors to confirm that they’re looking for signs.
Since February 1, county mosquito control workers have visited the homes of Zika-infected people. According to Gary Goode (the environmental program supervisor for Mosquito Control), the people receiving visits are either pregnant or have visited countries that have local Zika transmission. They also show two symptoms of Zika, including fever, joint pain, and red eyes.
Every suspected Zika case was a false alarm until Wednesday.
Goode stated that the best way to prevent the virus spreading is to inspect each house by Palm Beach County Mosquito Control. Also, to get rid of any water-holding containers, to eradicate the larval habitats from the affected homes, Goode suggested.
O’Connor previously stated that the health department would not quarantine anyone who has contracted Zika.
Residents and visitors are advised by the Department of Health to follow these precautions in order to avoid mosquito-borne diseases.