MIAMI: A person in Texas has contracted Zika after traveling to a part of Miami where local mosquitoes are spreading the virus, which can cause birth defects, officials said Monday.
“This is the first Texas case to be linked to travel within the continental United States,” said the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Health officials linked this case to Miami travel after closely evaluating travel dates, symptom onset date and known local transmission of Zika virus in Miami.”
The unidentified person had “recently traveled to an area of Miami with local Zika transmission” and “has tested positive for the virus.”
Upon returning to Texas, the traveler “sought testing after becoming ill.”
Florida has tallied 30 cases of locally transmitted Zika since July, marking the first cases of the virus spreading locally on US soil.
“We still believe local transmissions are only occurring in an area that is less than one square mile in Wynwood” — a neighborhood north of downtown Miami — Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Monday.
The Florida Department of Health is nevertheless also investigating four areas in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties where local transmissions of Zika may have occurred.
Zika, which can be transmitted via sexual contact or mosquito bites, has spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean region since 2015.
The virus is blamed for a surge in cases of babies born with the brain and skull defect known as microcephaly.
Suspected Zika-related birth defects have been reported so far in 15 countries or territories, according to the World Health Organization.
As many as four in five of those infected may notice no symptoms at all. Those who do often report fever, rash and body pain.
Until now Texas has now only reported travel-associated cases of Zika, and said it would also classify the Miami case as linked to travel.
The state is now “on alert for the possibility of local transmission,” said the health department. – AFP